1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' 7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.' 12 But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Meditation: You know the look of disappointment when you miss a "once in a life-time" opportunity. Being unprepared can lead to disastrous consequences! What good is a forgotten life-jacket, when the boat is sinking? Jesus' story of ten girlfriends of the bride being caught off-guard by the groom's party seems strange to westerners today. But his audience knew all too well how easily this could happen to them. Wedding customs in ancient Palestine required extra vigilance and preparation for everyone involved. (Some near eastern villages still follow this custom.) The bride and groom did not go away for their honeymoon, but celebrated for a whole week with their family and friends. It was the custom for the groom to come at his discretion and get his bride and bring her to the wedding party. If he came at night lamps were required by necessity. To show up for a wedding party at night without proper attire, such as a lamp and a wedding garment, is like showing up for an important event today which requires a reservation and a ticket. You just don't get in without the proper pass. Can you imagine the frustration one experiences in traveling abroad and finding out you can't get into some country because you don't have a valid passport or visa? Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared. There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment. For example, a student cannot prepare for his exam when the day of testing is upon him. A person cannot get the right kind of character or skill required for a task at hand unless he already possesses it. Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing, and many have trained themselves to not hear. We will not be prepared to meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his banquet table. Are you ready to meet him when he calls?
"Lord, make me vigilant and attentive to your voice that I may heed
your call at all times. May I find joy in your presence and delight
in doing your will."