All of us are called to share in the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Rev. 19:9). This is the endpoint of every liturgical year celebrated annually so that, as we partake in the liturgy of the Church in the world, we may be initiated into the heavenly liturgy where there is ceaseless joy in front of God’s countenance.
In the transition of our celebration from earth to heaven, we do not just passively wait for the coming of that transformative segment. That duration is always coupled with “pro-active” anticipation: we do not just wait such that we fall asleep and simply be awakened when it is already there. This anticipation should be preoccupied with preparation.
The “Parable of Ten Virgins” demonstrates the message of preparation. Jesus encourages us with the lesson he said towards the end: “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mat 25:13). It is actually telling us to prepare for the coming of God in His definitive hour. Jesus is comparing this coming into the mode of the Jewish Wedding feast when the arrival of the bridegroom is always a surprise to well-wishers. It is not scheduled according to our own estimation. Only the bridegroom knows when he wants to surprise the excited visitors.
Then, how should we prepare for the coming of His Kingdom? We see two ways:
Being Single-minded. In preparation, we always encounter distractions. We are being bothered even by how we should proceed to identify our priorities. Jesus is clear in the gospel in his example of the wise virgins. We should focus on our goal which is to experience the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God. From there, we identify our needs or means on how to do it. That is why, the five wise virgins filled another extra oil for a spare because it is a coherent resultant to “top up” our oil for our lights to burn such enthusiastic yearning. If we stick on to our goal, we will never end up fragmented and disoriented in preparation. We keep a clear mind and hence we become wise in being single-minded.
Maintain a Total Commitment. Preparing oneself in the coming of God is not just “a day near the end” planning. It is a lifetime commitment. In our decision to answer God’s call to follow him was actually the time we start preparing to welcome God’s reign in our lives. Being Christian is not being “picky”. We should embrace Jesus’ challenges without taking for granted any part of it. We can learn from what the foolish virgins “undid” in their commitment to wait for the bridegroom. Yes, they were willing to wait but they fell short in realizing that they had wasted most of their waiting by just “sleeping” over opportunities to grow in their yearning. We cannot shortcut our joys for heaven by just simply cramming over when everything is already definitive. We cannot teach ourselves to be committed overnight. There is no “express way” commitment but only the Way of the cross of Jesus.
The wedding feast is for all of us. God invites us but it is up to us if we patiently prepare for it. Hence, it is high time to decide; it’s time to focus and commit fully. | Rev. Fr. Ric Anthony A. Reyes, OSA