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Summary: Fulfillment of life comes not from the horizon outside, rather it grows within us through our life in partnership with God...

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Matthew 25.1-13 is a parable that compares the christian life to a virgin who waits for the coming of the bridegroom with her lamp lit as well as with plenty of reserve of oil in order to add festivity to the wedding feast. The imageries of the wedding feast, the bridegroom, the reserve of oil or its lack and their interplay summarise most powerfully the way a christian brings her or his life to its consummation or the way one does not.

Nuptial imagery was applied by the rabbis to show the relationship between God and his people. The wedding feast was an imagery for the culmination of the kingdom of God. The bridegroom stood for Christ. Oil represented the good works of the disciples who waited for the moment of salvation that would come from God. They believed that this moment was near and that salvation would be offered to those who do works of charity and helpfullness to build up a beautiful community of people centred around God.

In this light, the parable speaks of two groups of people. One group consists of those christians who waited for the "parousia" [the coming of the kingdom of God] with their works of love, mercy and reconciliation, but lost their enthusiasm and hope in the face of an unexpected delay of it and turned back to their old way of life. The second group consisted of those christians who held fast to their faith and continued with their newly embraced form of life, who later received the gift of the presence of God in their lives from their experience of happiness, peace and harmony with whom they lived and related.

There is the story of what a village priest did to his parishioners. Though he was an ideal pastor to his people, when they did not take his instructions on christian life seriously, he played a trick on them. He told them that God himself was coming to their community to increase the joy and peace in their life. They believed it for some time and lived a good life to give a good impression to God when He arrived, but slowly they grew tired of waiting and went back to their old way of life. The priest told them much later that the devil was arriving shortly to destroy their lives and property. They got themselves united in order to fight the devil. In order to preserve this unity, they remained steadfast in mutual help, generosity and neighbourliness. They did this out of fear, and it has nothing to do with our religion, which is based on love. But the story reveals the lack of human perseverence in relation to doing good.

The monsters of boredom and shadows of weariness overpower us in the face of delays in expected results. The group of people who got wearied of their waiting is named foolish because they ignored God’s promise of a full-life-experience, that was to come. In those who remained steadfast to their faith a heavenly joy grew up even without their knowing, which is in fact the experience of the Kingdom of God. It does not come from outside. It grows from within us. God has planted His Word in us already in baptism. God does not bring us the culmination of our life from a farther horizon. It grows within us as we practise His Word in our relation with one another. That is given not to those who grow weary, but to those who remain steadfast in doing good.


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