We pray for wisdom and hope we will be as ready when the bridegroom comes as were the five wise virgins in “The Parable of the Ten Virgins” (NAB, Matthew 25:1-13 ) The five foolish virgins did not plan carefully, and missed out on the long awaited event even though they asked for help.
All through life we have been taught that a good person shares what he has with others, and helps them when they ask. Hearing the parable, we wonder why five of the virgins were called wise and worthy in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that they refused to share the extra oil they brought. The wise virgins were not cruel or haughty, but they were not about to share their oil saying, “No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.” (NAB Matthew 25: 9) They were called wise, although their actions appeared to be selfish.
Similarly, we are responsible for our own entrance into the marriage feast or heaven, and need to plan for the day and the hour. But, here’s the question. Didn’t Christ’s teachings instruct us to share all we have, to give from our need not our excess? In life’s struggle to attend the eternal wedding feast, is it acceptable for us to be selfish sometimes?
In trying to understand the lesson, maybe selfish is too harsh word. We must be self-interested enough in planning our lives to attain eternal life, but it’s hard to accept that we can’t help everyone when we have been taught to share all we have. Should we not take a chance to assist another, especially when we know that without our help they probably won’t make it in the end? The lesson in Matthew clearly tells us to plan ahead – for ourselves, even if it means we can’t share everything.
Obviously, there are things only we can do for ourselves to gain entrance into the everlasting feast. We must be wise enough to make sure our spiritual life is fed, arrange time to pray and meditate, and surround ourselves with those who inspire us for good. We can nurture others’ physical being and mental state, but we can only prepare our own spirit for entrance into the eternal wedding feast. In that respect, we must be selfish for no matter how much we pray for others, what advice we give, examples we set, love we lavish, or oil we share, we still cannot give enough to guarantee people’s acceptance into the bridegroom’s eternal marriage feast. They must selfishly learn to wisely plan ahead.