BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
Matthew wrote his Gospel at a critical moment for Jesus’ followers. The coming of Christ has been delayed. The faith of many has gotten slack. It was necessary to revive again the first conversion, remembering one of Jesus’ parables.
The story tells us about a wedding feast. Full of joy, a group of young girls «went out to await the bridegroom». Not all are setting out well prepared. Some carry with them oil to light their lamps; it hasn’t occurred to the others to think about that. They believe that it’s enough to carry lamps in their hands.
Since the bridegroom was late in arriving, «they all grew drowsy and fell asleep». Problems start when they announce the arrival of the bridegroom. The sensible ones light their lamps and enter with him into the banquet. The foolish ones find themselves obliged to go out to buy some oil. But when they return, «the door is closed». It’s way too late.
It’s wrong to go about seeking a secret meaning to the «oil»: is it an allegory to speak about spiritual fervor, about the inner life, about good works, about love…? The parable is simply a call to live our closeness to Christ in a responsible and lucid way right now, before it’s too late. Each one will know what it is that they need to take care of.
It’s irresponsible to call ourselves Christians and live out our own religion without making more effort to be like Christ. It’s wrong to live complacently in our own Church without raising the question of a true conversion to Gospel values. It’s just like foolish people to feel that we’re followers of Jesus without «entering» into God’s project that God wants to get going.
In these moments when it’s so easy to «grow slack», to fall into skepticism, and to «get by» on the safe paths we always do, I find only one way to be in the Church: be converted to Jesus Christ.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf