Our scripture this week is Matthew 25:1-13, taken today from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

This parable is difficult in several ways, but one of the confusing points is this: why wouldn’t the wise bridesmaids share their oil with those who had none? This seems to go against what Jesus teaches about caring for one another. The problem is that Jesus isn’t talking about oil or any earthly commodity.

When we talk about sharing our faith, it means we tell our story, explaining our relationship with God and how He has worked in our lives. We offer others an invitation but it is up to them to accept God’s gift and live in faith. This is a personal responsibility, no one can do it for us.

The wise bridesmaids in the parable were those who were prepared, even though the wait was long. The foolish bridesmaids weren’t ready for the bridegroom’s arrival and were caught without what was needed. When Christ returns we must all be ready, and it is up to each of us individually to make the preparations in our lives.

Loving Lord, we hear Your promise to return for us. Help us to live in readiness, receiving the gift of faith and using it in our lives every day. Amen.

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