I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but I found that this liturgical calendar has gone by so fast. As we quickly approach the end of this liturgical year, like any good “end of the year”, we prepare. Don’t we all set out at the end of the year, setting out goals and challenges for ourselves? Well, that’s exactly what we’re being asked in this week’s gospel reading; to be prepared and to get ready. But be prepared and get ready for what? Jesus uses a parable, as he often did, to instruct the disciples on the need for watchfulness, since they do not know the time of the return of the Son of Man.
I don’t know if you have read the parable so here is a quick synopsis: it pictures ten maidens who go to meet the bridegroom. Five, described as “wise”, have prepared by bringing along flasks of oil for their lamps; five are described as “foolish” because they have not prepared for a time of waiting by bringing along extra oil. When their oil runs out and the wedding banquet finally begins, the foolish maidens are off buying more oil. Whilst they are gone buying more oil, those who came prepared were granted access into the wedding banquet, and when the foolish return they are not granted access to the banquet. I think that the point of the parable has a simple question implied. What are we actually doing while we are waiting for Jesus? In our every day lives, we all know how to get ready, because we do it all the time. We get ready for appointments, we get ready for work, for school and for those of us who have kids, we get ready for their arrival. The gospel asks us to get ready and be prepared on a much deeper level. But what does this mean and what does this look like? To quote the late, John Thornhill: “the parable invites us to ask ourselves whether we are ready to meet our Lord, and to review the loyalties and values that shape our lives, we may well ponder what is offered to us by God’s Word in the first reading: the joy and peace that come from being in tune with God is there to be ‘found by those who look’.” Are we sitting around with no thought or concern for ourselves and others, or are we actively living our daily lives with meaning and purpose?
I think that being prepared and ready for Jesus is seen in how we live our daily lives, right here and now. It’s seen in our actions, in how we speak to and of others, in how we treat others. It’s how we try to live our daily life as followers of Jesus. It’s not about sitting around and waiting for something to happen, as being prepared is never a passive thing. We must be like boy scouts and always be prepared! To be well prepared, with extra flasks of oil, is to live a life that is worthy of the calling given to each of us by God. So let’s do it! Let’s strive to be intentional in our preparedness and readiness with all our hearts and minds.