Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
We do not know when we will die, nor do we know when Jesus will come again. Even Jesus admits that "...of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone,” (Matthew 24:36). As the end of the Church year approaches our readings more and more speak of the end of all things, of Christ’s return, and how important it is that we live in readiness; in this case, like a wise virgin who, awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, brings extra oil so that she may not have to make her way through the city at night, in the dark.
In the days of Jesus, wedding feasts generally lasted for days and the schedule could be pretty loose; waiting for hours for the Bridegroom to pass by could indeed require one to keep a vigil late into the night, such that if you did not enter the Bridegroom’s home with Him, coming later to knock, you would be denied entry.
This seems harsh to us, but if we reflect on the difference between the foolish and wise virgins, the wise ones brought extra oil in preparation for when the Bridegroom would come. They were not going to take a chance missing their opportunity to join Him as He made His way to the wedding feast. They cared, in other words, for the light of their faith—a light we all receive at our baptism—keeping it nourish why what St. Jerome refers to as “the oil of good works,” for just as a lamp without oil cannot bear its flame any longer, “…faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead,” (James 2:17).