November 2023 - Do you have enough oil? And what kind of oil are you looking for?

Where I minister, we often hear a lot about flights being canceled. So, there is a story of a young woman who asked her brother to accompany her to the airport to meet her fiancé who was due to arrive at 10 p.m. The plane was delayed several times, and eventually, the brother got tired of waiting and went home, assuring his sister that he would be back before her fiancé’s flight landed. Unfortunately, he fell asleep, and when he woke up, he discovered that the couple had already arrived at the house. While he had missed the fiancé’s arrival, the young woman had been there to greet him because she loved him and was prepared to wait no matter how long it took.

In the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Mt 25:1-13), it is Jesus for whom we are waiting. We don’t know when, but at some time, He will come again to invite us to go with Him if we want to. He will not force us, so the question is: In which group of five am I? With the wise or with the foolish bridesmaids? As we wait for Jesus, what is the oil that nourishes us?

As we age, we may get tired of waiting and perhaps seek different kinds of oil for our lamps — the oil of pleasure that is not life-giving, of overwork, drink, a love of money, even drugs. We may have good health and think that we’ll be around for a good while yet. But life can be tenuous, and there are no guarantees.

But Jesus comes into our lives not only when we die but each day through the events of our lives. He is constantly reminding us of His presence. When we are asked to help someone and we do, we meet Jesus in that situation.

Ultimately, our only security is God. If we are honestly trying to follow Jesus, it will not matter when He comes. So, the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is a call to conversion. Jesus is reminding us that there are certain things that cannot be left until the last minute, just as a student should not wait until the last minute to start studying for exams. It can be easy for us to leave things until it is too late to prepare for the coming of Jesus. But there are certain things we cannot borrow from others, just as the foolish bridesmaids found it impossible to borrow oil. We cannot borrow a relationship with God; we must possess it ourselves through daily fidelity. Even if we fail, we can start over again. God never gives up on waiting for us, but we may give up on wanting to be with Him.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for wanting each one of us to be with you forever in glory. Give us your powerful Holy Spirit so that we may fill our lamps with the oil of faith, hope, and love as we wait for you. Amen.” 

Father Anthony Korir, SMA, is temporary administrator of the Parish of the Precious Blood in Caribou.