Thirty Second Sunday in ordinary time – A

We often use the word fool or foolish in our daily lives. And usually we apply it to someone else. Sometimes we have to say it to ourselves, and admit we have been very foolish.  This Sunday’s gospel tells the story of ten beautiful women,  the ten virgins. They had a very important task at the wedding feast. They had to go out in procession with lighted lamps to meet the bridegroom. They practiced and they knew exactly what they had to do. The focus of an Israelite wedding was not on the bride, like our weddings, it was on the bridegroom. At nightfall the bridegroom would leave his own place, dressed to the nines and would cross the town and come to the house of his betrothed. He would then accompany her back to his own place and that’s where the ceremony would take place. Those in attendance would gather and wait for the bridegroom to come. Nightfall in an Israelite village was very dark, we have electricity now but there was no electricity then, it was really dark. If you were out at night in an Israelite village you would need your lamp and a lot of oil to keep it going. They also knew that he might come late, not like our weddings where we know that the bride might come late, and they knew that they had to have extra oil for their lamps.  They were five wise and five foolish.  The bridegroom was late,  they fell asleep,  When he came, the five wise replenished their lamps with the extra oil,  and the five foolish went into panic.  They had to rush off and look for more oil.  When they came back, the door was closed,  they were locked out.  Why does Jesus tell us this story?  It is a simple reminder and invitation to remind us what is important in our lives.  When we lose the sense of what is important,  we can get distracted and carried away,  by material things, by people by situations. We can lose time, we can lose ground,  we can lose everything.  We can lock ourselves out for ever.  Then we come to the painful realization that we are not among the wise but among the foolish. We often use the phrase,  “when God made time he made plenty of it”, and we all know that sometimes this leads to procrastination.  We put off things that we know we should do and we never get arond to doing them. The message of this parable is very clear, time is short. This parable does have an open ending not just for the wise but also for the foolish.  The heart of Jesus is full of kindness and mercy,  his mission is one of redemption, conversion, he came to open doors, not close them. It was he who said ‘knock and the door will be opened’,  and the door to his heart, will always be open. Thanks to Jesus, the foolish virgins do not have to remain foolish,  and through the gift of wisdom, which the Holy Spirit gives, the foolish virgins can become wise. If there have been times in our lives when we have been foolish, even now, putting off things we know we should do; if we are running out of oil, all we have to do is, turn to Jesus, he will never let us down.