1 Thessalonians 4: 1-8
Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Psalm 97: 1-2B, 5-6, 10-12
The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
and all the peoples behold his glory.
The Lord loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful;
he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
Matthew 25: 1-13
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
It's important when considering the actions of the five foolish virgins to note that they knew the bridegroom was coming and knew that their lamps needed oil, but intentionally did not bring any. What we see today is not a story of ignorance, or selfishness on the part of the other group of virgins, but rather a story of a group of people who very clearly stalled in preparation. Perhaps they thought that they would have time later to buy oil. Or maybe their plan all along was to try and leach off the other virgins. Regardless of motive or plan, there was specific negligence on their part. The other virgins were not mean for denying them oil. But instead they knew what they were responsible for.
In this parable, let's consider the lamps to be our spiritual lives. Those of us introduced to the faith are like virgins given a lamp. In the way that it was the responsibility of the virgins to bring oil for their lamps, it is up to us to fuel our prayer life and develop a relationship with Christ. No one else can do that for us. When we know the truth and what the Lord will require of us, it is our own responsibility to respond and to discipline ourselves so as to be ready to receive Him.
The first reading today talks about the disciplines involved in following Jesus. These disciplines are designed to keep us safe from sin and draw us ever closer to God. In our natural lives, diet and exercise regimens are lauded because we know that they keep us from weakness and disease. When we know what it takes to be healthy, it is up to us to take responsibility and care for our bodies. Our spiritual life is no different. When we know the truth, we have the responsibility to care for our souls and intentionally prepare to be with the Lord.
Today, consider what gets in the way of your spiritual life and resolve to change it. If you need to rearrange your schedule so that you have time for prayer, or if you need to attend reconciliation to draw closer to Jesus, take that step today.