Early on I always thought that there are people who are just so talented in what they do, that I thought they must be aliens from outer space. They just do their crafts so well that for me, they’re just so amazingly blessed and so damn lucky. The world is full of examples be it in sports (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, among others), business (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates), music (The Beatles) and in many other fields. Not until author Malcolm Gladwell came claiming that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is to a large extent, a matter of practicing hard, so many times, in the correct and proper way. Yes, it’s about putting in effort, hard work and perseverance, that one achieves world-class excellence.
Similarly, going to Heaven also needs effort on our part. We can choose to be wise, like five of the ten virgins in the Gospel (Mt. 25: 1 – 13), or be foolish like the rest. The five foolish ones, when taking their lamps, “brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.” Since the bridegroom was delayed for a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight when the bridegroom came, it was time for them to come out to meet him. So all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps, however; the foolish ones were running out of oil and said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ There wasn’t enough oil for them so the wise replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ So they went off to buy it, but the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him and then the door was locked and they weren’t allowed to enter.
In this narrative, we are being exhorted to be always ready, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (v. 13) We cannot be unprepared as we always have to be on the lookout for the coming of the Lord, which can be anytime, worst; it can happen possibly on the day we are least prepared. Our lamps have to be continuously refilled with oil so that we’ll be able to spread light in time for the coming of the Savior. The lamp symbolizes our Baptism while the oil symbolizes the Sacraments and the blessings that nurture our faith. Thus, whenever we go astray, we are said to be running out of oil, so we must go back to the right path to correct whatever sin or wrongdoing is done. The Lord is telling us that while we are blessed with grace by His redeeming Passion and Death, we can only rise with Him with our lamps lighted, as St. Paul said in the Second Reading,
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thes. 4: 14)
While we cannot be perfect as only God is perfect, our obedience and submission to Him in deep humility and faith will enable His Holy Blood to cover our sins. In all our life’s struggles and challenges, we need wisdom and strength to discern what is good and what is bad for us. Not all bad is seen as it is for the enemy is deceiving and make us fall if we aren’t prayerful and careful enough. God assures us in the First Reading that,
“Resplendent and unfading is Wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her.” (Wis. 6: 12)
Let us pray for wisdom, humility and grace so that we will be ready when the Lord comes in His Glory.
“My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” (Ps. 63: 2b)