The parable of the ten virgins is found in the gospel of Matthew. As Jesus begins his final march before His crucifixion, he begins to teach his disciples about the events that will mark the end of times and his return. Through this parable, Jesus illustrates how the Church will be corrupted. Jesus then tells the story of 10 virgins, five of whom were “wise” and five of whom were “foolish,” waiting for a husband to come and find them. Let us discover this biblical passage where Jesus invites us to wait and watch.
1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.
4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.
5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.
8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Of the ten young virgins who had prepared to go to the wedding, only five were able to enter the wedding hall before it was closed. To the other five, the bridegroom even said: “I don’t know you”. When you read this parable, it can create fear, because you may see yourself in the place of the five virgins, who were willing but rejected because of their lack of foresight. These virgins symbolize the Church. It is written repeatedly in the Bible that Jesus returns to seek his wife. We are also called to prepare ourselves for this meeting with Jesus, our husband. So let us take oil with us! The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. It is He who will keep our flame for the Lord Jesus lit.
Whenever Jesus gives a parable about his return, he gives this very clear instruction to his disciples: “watch and pray!” How can we watch in practice? The parable of the ten virgins teaches us that we must be careful to carry on us all the weapons that God gives us to make it to our encounter with him. These weapons are described to us in the Letter to the Ephesians in Chapter 6: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:14-17). And because the watch must be accompanied by prayer, the apostle Paul ends by saying: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)