In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus tells a story about a party of virgins, perhaps bridesmaids or torchbearers for a procession, chosen to participate in a wedding. Each of the ten virgins is carrying a lamp or torch as they await the coming of the bridegroom, which they expect at some time during the night. Five of the virgins are wise and have brought extra oil for their lamps. Five are foolish and have only brought their lamps without any extra oil.
The girls were really looking forward to this day. It was a rare privilege to be chosen to be the bridesmaids at this great event. They were going to receive a lot of attention. It was really a celebrity wedding of the type we hear about in Hollywood circles. As was usual in the Middle East, no one knew the exact hour when it would take place. The bridegroom also wanted it to be kept as secret as possible to avoid paparazzi. The girls were told to get ready and be prepared. The bridegroom could arrive at any time during the evening. They started getting made up shortly after lunch. The dresses were chosen weeks before. They knew they would be among the few privileged people to be part of the wedding. Who knows how many interviews they will have to give after the event! It was flattering to think about it. They could not hide their excitement as they walked into the specially prepared room to wait for the wedding celebration to begin.
Suddenly there was the alarm! A real commotion followed – the spray of exotic scents as a crowd gathered around the large mirror. All wanted to look their very best. The lamps were lit. But there was something wrong. Some of the lamps were not as bright as the others. Their owners shook the lamps only to discover that there was almost no oil left to feed the wicks! Some of the girls who had thought ahead began refilling their lamps from the store of oil they had brought along. But not all the girls had thought about that. They wanted the others to share the oil. But there was not enough for everyone. Five of the girls rushed out of the room to the nearest store that happened to be open 24 hours a day. While they were gone the bridegroom arrived and the large doors were closed with guards stationed behind them to keep unwanted intruders out. Then the feasting began. When the girls returned with their lamps brightly lit, they tragically found that they were too late.
The Master ended the story there. His listeners understood the message. Be prepared! Be prepared because you do not know the day nor the hour.
The Boy Scout movement has as its motto: Be prepared! Only those who are really prepared for the eventualities and the challenges of the job will succeed. We do not know the time, the hour or the event that will call us to use the specific skills that we have acquired. But when we have chosen the direction in which we want to go, we will also have a pretty good idea of what will be required of us. In fact, we will want to be as creative as possible in imagining all the skills we will need to develop. This means long hours, days and months of preparation.
The Parable teaches us some important lessons for Life: 1)That we need to be wise enough to remain ever prepared; 2) That we need to make sure that our Lamps are ready and lit till the end of our lives; 3) That we need to keep watch and be prepared because the time of the Lord’s return is unknow; 4) That we need to keep watch and be prepared because Christ is returning unexpectedly, suddenly; 5) That we need to keep watch and be prepared because he can be caught napping sleeping. Therefore, ‘Be on guard! Be alert! Keep watch!’