The Parable Project: The Bridesmaids

The bridesmaids' parable, also known as the ten virgins, is reported in Matthew's gospel.

I am simultaneously drawn and repelled. Simple virtue would suggest sharing. Who would expect such niggardly behavior by the groom. When is he to arrive? There is no telling. One needn't always be wakeful, need one?

And what of bringing oil? Simple prudence suggests that one would bring fuel to light a lamp. In our day this might be the equivalent of bringing a flashlight but no battery.

Even so, the bridegroom does not come off well here. "I do not know you" is a harsh response in the face of simple imprudence. If the parable warns against complacency in the face of experience, I can accept the warning without the heavy-handed reaction of the fickle bridegroom.

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
" '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.'
"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.
"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Comments: (3)

  • We must be ready to meet this one "with whom we ha...
    We must be ready to meet this one "with whom we have to do." From the perspective of forever this very moment is of utmost importance. We don't have one nore day, hour or second. We are sure we do, but we don't. It is not guarenteed to any one. We must have our lamps filled with him, now.
    Posted on April 20, 2009 at 5:10 pm by Anonymous
  • I'm a bit confused by your take on this parable. P...
    I'm a bit confused by your take on this parable. Perhaps your religious upbringing was from a fundamentalist tradition. Mine, being Catholic, taught me to appreciate Scripture with an understanding of the literary genre being employed. Here, we see firstly, a parable. As such, none of the text is to be taken literally but figuratively as didactic method. Secondly, the method employed is hyperbole; everything is exaggerated to make the point loud and clear so to speak.
    I would like to get your thoughts on this
    Posted on August 28, 2009 at 2:57 am by James
  • I had no idea until this moment that someone asked...
    I had no idea until this moment that someone asked for clarification regarding something I wrote.
    I was raised by a mom and dad who insisted that religion, any religion, was evil. They knew, as intellectuals, that "Religion" was by far, by very far, the most corrupting, the most horrible, devisive, dispicable influence in the world. It was and remains the primary source of most wars, bloodshed, hatred, bias, greed and lust for power. I was taught to hate religion, christ, god, priests and to look down upon anyone stupid enough to "buy that crap."
    I believe this parable is figurative and hyperbolic, and that it has a practical, discirnable message. I think Jesus tried to teach that the world of our 5 senses is not the only reality. In fact, he is quoted as saying that he left that other reality to live for a while in ours. Ultimately, his desire was and remains for us to join him there someday. Our opportunity to accept his invitation will not last forever. Each one of us needs to respond personally. As the daily grind of living life drags on, we may forget that we didn't reply.
    If you haven't already, see The Passion. That guy who lived in obsurity, torn, spat on, blood everywhere, his mom weeping, naked, no friends left, thick nails in his wrists and feet, dirty, his bread ripped out, a ring shaped assortment of thorny twigs pushed into his scalp, executioners betting on a few remaining shreds of his clothing. The reflection of his mon's face in his eyes, eyes watching her suffering as she stood helpless, the agony of her agony killing him, a few women in a bloody mist on their knees screaming at the top of their lungs, "He didn't do anything wrong. He never hurt anyone. Stop this. Stop this you murderers! You murderers. Take him down. What did he do? What? He was always good," They sob. "He was always kind. How can you kill him? What did he do that was so bad?"
    They writhe on the ground. They look like wild, rabid animals.
    I cry as I see them cry.
    I cry over Jesus.
    I don't want him to see me cry.
    Got to be strong for him.
    I don't want him to stay up on that thing any longer.
    To die for me.
    I don't deserve it and never will.
    Go away from me.
    All this stuff gets confusing. I want to be with him, though. Sometimes I hate him with everything I have.
    But, he is one cool guy.
    Posted on September 14, 2009 at 9:28 pm by Anonymous

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