Persevere in Preparation for Heaven

User’s Guide to Sunday, Nov. 12

Candles in a church in Montreal
Candles in a church in Montreal (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, Nov. 12, is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 or 1 4:13-14; Matthew 25:1-13.

Let’s look at four principles taught in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.

The text speaks of “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, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”

What is this oil? The oil is the love of God, the wisdom of God. It is God himself. It is all God’s treasures of Scripture, the sacraments, prayer, the Church and the liturgy; it is joy, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and the gift of holiness. The wise virgins have stocked up on God’s abundant gifts. They have richly availed themselves of God’s goodness and plentiful graces.

The text explains, “The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’” At first, the answer of the wise virgins surprises us.

Shouldn’t they share? Isn’t that what we would expect Jesus to say?

But there are some things you can’t lend and some things you can’t borrow. You can’t borrow someone else’s relationship with God. You can’t borrow holiness, or mercy, or love, or wisdom. You can’t borrow someone else’s prayer life. You have to have your own.

The text continues, “At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ … and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.”

This is an important reminder that we must persevere until the end. The groom did not come until midnight, and the foolish virgins could not hold out to the end.

Only those who were ready with their lamps trimmed and burning when the groom arrived entered the wedding with him.

We must be faithful unto the end. Jesus says, “He who perseveres to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Scripture also says, “Call no man blessed till he die. For it is by his end that a man is known” (Sirach 11:28).

“The [foolish] virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’” the reading adds. “But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’”

The foolish virgins scrambled to get what they needed, but it was too late. The door was barred.

It is said that the foolish virgins are knocking on the door, or at least calling out, asking for entrance.

We may think of the door as the door to heaven.

But the way to heaven is not through some door “up there.” It is through the door down here, the door that we must open is the door of our heart.

Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

The Lord is knocking now, and we must answer the knock. The choice is ours. It is we who ultimately determine our destiny.

At the judgment, the Lord merely ratifies our decision.

Procrastination is perilous. There comes a day when the door is forever closed.

The Lord adds finally: Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”