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Enough is never enough

When Matthew writes to a despondent community disappointed that the second coming of the Lord had not happened as they expected, he repurposes the original story that Jesus had addressed to Israel to sooth the despair of the glum and disappointed Christians.
The 10 virgins no longer refer to Israel, but the Church (the bride) that awaits the return of her Lord, her bridegroom. Matthew says that there is a logical explanation for the bride’s no show: the bride is the Christian community, represented by the 10 virgins.
“Five of them were foolish and five were wise.” A theme dear to Matthew is resumed here. In the Christian community, good and the evil live together; the wheat and the weed grow in the same field; the wise and the foolish are side by side.
The foolish virgins represent Christians at risk, those who focus their lives on what is transient; those who neglect true values; those who forget the one necessity; that which Mary had chosen at the Lord’s feet in becoming his disciple (Luke 10:38-42).
The vigilant virgins are the Christians who do not allow themselves to be seduced by vanity and remain focussed on what is important in life.
The puzzling behaviour of the wise virgins, shows that the importance of living well is not just to die well. God, it is true, always finds a way to save the person, but in the end everyone will end up accountable for what they did: in a solid and magnificent palace or a sand castle, which will not stand the fire of God’s judgment, when he “will test the work of everyone” (1 Corinthians 3:13-17).
The closing of the door indicates the end of all opportunity. Hence the urgent need to figure out how to use life well. The image of the lighted lamp suggests the way.
Whoever has made evangelical choices will preserve and keep in mind and heart the light of faith, even in those moments when trials and difficulties go beyond the expected. However, the choice of the one who follows the proposals of Christ for a while, but later, yields to fatigue and leans towards other values or interests, will be condemned and judged.
Jesus is not coming only at the end of our lives. He comes in every moment and wants to find his disciples engaged in service, in the gift of themselves to the brothers and sisters.
In their room, the lamp should be always burning, as a point of reference and reminder of hope for the poor, for the outcast and the stranger who invoke love and justice, for the woman who demands respect, for those who are victims of violence and long for peace, for those who did wrong and need understanding and forgiveness.
• Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications