The Parable of the Ten Virgins

“The Parable of the Ten Virgins”
A reflection on Matthew 25:1-13 and Song of Solomon 5:2
Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 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. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 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.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Matthew 25:1-13

Both wise and foolish fall asleep in the parable, but in the end, those who “stay awake” are the virgins with oil in their lamps. This recalls the verse in the Song of Solomon in which the bride speaks with longing for her bridegroom: 

I was sleeping, but my heart was awake.
The sound of my lover knocking!

Song of Solomon 5:2

Ten drowsy virgins were taken by surprise.
“Our hearts were awake while we slept,” sang the wise.

Related posts:

A Feast for Watchful Servants
The Parable of the Watchful Servants
Vigilant and Faithful Servants
The Divine Thief

4 Replies to “The Parable of the Ten Virgins”

  1. Dear GMC, Thank you for your saving grace-filled reflection. It seems like a daunting task, being ready. My prayer for all is that our hearts be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. And that they are in the right place too. Our Lady of China, pray for us and help us to watch and wait with hearts open.

  2. Dear Gloria, I have always wondered how to stay awake for the Lord while I sleep. With your beautiful and insightful reflection I now know: keep my heart open while I sleep. Sometimes it is harder to keep the heart open than the eyes. I ask the Lord to help us. Thank you, Gloria, for helping us think about and realize such deep truths about our faith.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Fabienne. The Spirit sent from the Father prays without ceasing in our hearts (1 Thessalonians 5:17) with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26). May we allow the Spirit to soar!

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