There must be a reason why the five “wise” virgins didn’t give extra oil to the five “foolish” virgins. Well, the five “foolish” virgins took no oil with them. How foolish can one be?
Memories are short! “Aw, we don’t have to worry about this hurricane. We’ve lived through a lot of them, and none of them have been as bad as this one is predicted to become. Don’t worry about it.” There are a lot of other stories: “Aw, don’t worry about gas or food. As soon as the storm passes over, we’ll go down to the grocery store and fill our pantry up again There is always a lot of gas and food...” Or, how about this one: “A flood? Here? Not a chance… A cyclone hit us? Here? Not a chance” There’s something prophetic about the decades-old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” A lot of people pooh-pooh that motto, believing that they are immune to disaster. They prefer to believe in the magical tooth fairy…
Sometimes we forget one element of today’s gospel story (Matt 25:1-13). That element is that all the virgins fell asleep, not just the foolish ones. However, the wise virgins had still prepared themselves beforehand, by having a good supply of oil ready for their lamps, in case it was needed. Maybe it was an excess of caution! Perhaps; but it paid off, because when the time came, they needed that oil to greet the Bridegroom who arrived unexpectedly.
Each one of us has been invited into the Kingdom of God, and each one of us has been warned that the Bridegroom is going to come at a time that we do not know. That “warning” is almost a “plea” to be ready at all times. Because if we are not ready – if our “lamps” are lacking “oil” – it will be too late for us. That metaphor of “oil” refers to the way we do or do not live the virtuous life that God freely empowers us to live. You can’t “borrow” these virtues at the last moment; you must “live” them. These are very sobering words in the gospel, and a reminder that we can never use the excuse that “no one told me.”
Following Christ is not just about virginity; it is about “following” the virtuous life that Jesus led, a life available to and necessary for all Christians. Surely we can all read the “signs of the times” and recognise whether the life offered and lived by our culture is the real life we’re being asked to live through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
See also Articles #1618 and #1788 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.