“I will hold the Christ-light for you, in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.”
This verse from “The Servant Song”, which we sing at Mass, reminded me of a reflection I had a few weeks ago on the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25. They were waiting with their lamps for the bridegroom to arrive. The wise ones carried oil with them, but the foolish did not and their lamps were going out. When they asked the others to share their oil, the wise replied, “Perhaps there will not be enough for us and you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.” Matt 25:9
Well this time when I read those words, they came with a much different message for me. In the past, the wise maidens seemed to be looking out for themselves first and letting the others take their chances. “It stinks to be you!” But this time I realized that they weren’t withholding out of spite or selfishness. They knew what could happen if the light totally went out. So instead, they would be waiting and watching while their shortsighted companions went to refill their lamps. They would be the beacons showing them the way home.
In truth, if the oil is faith, prayer, trust, holiness and love, then each of us does need to have and maintain our own supply. I can love and pray for another, and God will surely answer that prayer. But in the end, the other must eventually seek and accept what God offers in the way that is best for him or her.
In our lives today, and as it has ever been, there is the temptation to choose to seek security in self, or money, or status, or other little gods – and in the process set aside Love and Mercy. Such choices have consequences – often shame and sorrow and despair - because false gods can only ultimately disappoint. There is no need to judge or condemn others or ourselves. We are to be people of hope, and our Lord and his Spirit are stronger than anything we humans can do or not do. If we follow God’s law of love - in the midst of inevitable troubles - our hearts and minds will know joy and be at peace. If we keep the Christ-light glowing, seekers will still find a way home.
So, Lord, I want to be wise, I want to help keep the light on – like Motel 6. But if I run low on oil – which sometimes seems to happen – I know that I can come to you for more. And I trust that others will hold true for me, will carry the Christ-light for me, and welcome me in when I come back! I love and am grateful for all of you who do this for me.
And thank you Lord; I trust in you.
Lynn Wells is a St. Laurence parishioner and spiritual director.