My Dear Sisters and Brothers! There are things which you cannot give others even if you are very determined to do so. You can give your love to people but you cannot make for them the decision to love you back, can you? You can offer people your friendship but you cannot make for them the decision to be friends with you, can you?
Jesus compered the kingdom of heaven to the flame of the lamps those ten bridesmaids had. That’s why what all people have in common is what the ten maids had in common. They all had oil in their lamps. The oil is what God has already done for people out of love. All people can be sure that they are loved by God as we read in the Scriptures: ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.’ That’s the oil in the lamps.
There is something else we all have in common like those ten bridesmaids. It is our weakness. ‘They all grew drowsy and fell asleep’ despite the clear command of Jesus: ‘Stay awake.’ We, like those girls, also share our common weakness which comes from the original sin. There is no one exempt from that weakness on this planet at the moment. However in spite of our obvious human weakness Jesus acknowledged that people respond to God’s love by loving him. The wise bridesmaids came with some extra oil. That extra oil in their flasks was their decision to respond to God’s love by some concrete actions in their life. They were able to keep the flame of their lamps going because in their case God’s love for them was not one sided. They loved God back. They showed their love for God in their daily life, before they arrived at the wedding feast. When they advised the other five girls to go and to buy the extra oil they spontaneously revealed how they got that extra oil. It cost them something. Responding to God’s love was not cheap. God’s love for us didn’t come cheap either. It cost him a lot. If our love for God costs us nothing or little, it means, that there is no love or very little of it.
A couple of weeks ago, Pope Francis in his homily reflected on the mystery of death and on the resurrection on the last day. He said: ‘The many who will rise for eternal life are to be understood as the many for whom the blood of Christ was shed.’ It is what we hear during the consecration at Mass when the celebrant pronounces the following words over the chalice with wine: ‘The Blood… which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ These words we find in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Mark. These words also reveal the greatest humility which has ever been shown. It is the humility of Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father, God from God, light from light, who died for people without forcing them to love him. Here we stand in awe at the humility of God. Here we also stand in suffering at the lack of reciprocity. That is the mystery of human freedom.
My Dear Fellow believers! Although we are still at the beginning of November many things already reminds us of Christmas festivities. However the Gospels we are hearing on Sundays until Advent are taken from those days which we call the Holy Week; the week when Jesus was despised and rejected. What our time has in common with that Holy Week two thousand years ago can be captured by the words of St Francis of Assisi who walking through the streets of his own town cried: ‘The Love is not loved.’
The five girls from the Gospel were wise but not avaricious. They couldn’t give to other five the decision they made to respond to God’s love in some concrete ways. I would like to encourage you this Sunday, as you are enjoying the summer heat, to sit in the shade and to reflect on the past week: what was in the last week that showed your love for Jesus Christ? Did it cost you something?