32nd Sun A
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This parable occurs in a section of the Gospel where Jesus gives his teaching on what used to be popularly known as ‘the Last Things’: death, judgement and his coming in glory at the end of time. Jesus has warned his listeners in seven different ways to prepare for his coming by being alert to his presence in everyday life and he will stress this even more by his depiction of the Last Judgement scene (read on the Feast of Christ the King).
The parable has often been regarded as strange because bridesmaids waiting for so long seems odd to us but this was a feature of Palestinian weddings well into the middle of last century. The groom and bride’s father would enter into protracted negotiation and part of the fun afterwards was to try and catch out the bridesmaids unprepared or even sleeping.
For me the real question should be: what is the symbolism of ‘the oil’? All bridesmaids were there waiting, all had fallen asleep but only the wise had oil. The traditional interpretation has been that the ‘oil’ stood for love – love of God and of neighbour. All the bridesmaids may have been doing their duty, following their religious practices, but only some had the true spirit of love animating their lives.
Merciful and loving as God undoubtedly is, we cannot just take salvation for granted. The response of love is to allow it to flow through us to those around.