Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
How much oil is in your lamp? In the Gospel this weekend we hear about the wise and foolish women who are attendants at a wedding. Some have their lamps prepared with plenty of oil, some have not brought enough oil to keep the light burning. We should see ourselves in both groups—sometimes we are prepared for whatever may come, sometimes we find our preparation lacking. This story, of course, is not about material oil or practical preparations. Rather, it is about our spiritual oil, our spiritual readiness to encounter Christ the bridegroom when He comes.
So how much oil is in your lamp? How are you doing spiritually? Where is your heart, your soul? Are you feeling filled so that you can share the light of Christ, or has the light started to shrink, are you burning out? When we have a full supply of spiritual oil, we will notice certain characteristics about our life. We are praying every day. A full supply of spiritual oil means we are growing in faith, attentive to God’s presence around us every day. The sacraments—especially the Eucharist and Confession—add oil to our supply. The result of the use of our supply is that we share the joy of the Gospel with others, we look for ways to serve them, and we can receive blessings and even curses with tranquility and peace.
When our spiritual oil runs low, we find a corresponding set of characteristics. Typically, if the spiritual oil supply is running out, our prayer has been less regular and more sporadic. Our reception of the sacraments may have flagged or even stopped. We are not in regular contact with Jesus, the bridegroom of our souls, and so we are not open to receiving his consolation and love. Absent a regular prayer life and sacramental practice, works of charity become difficult or lose their meaning, criticism is interpreted as an attack on our person, and the stresses of life become burdens hard to bear.
Fortunately, a low supply of oil does not mean the end! We can and should replenish our supply. Where to begin? I find that Confession is often the best step. In a concrete, tangible way, we place ourselves before God as prodigal sons and daughters and hear those words mediated by the priest: “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.” Salved by the merciful gaze of our Father, we can once again pray with confidence. Our eyes are opened once more to the presence of God around us and in us, which in turn rekindles the flame of Divine grace in our hearts. Impelled by the love of Christ which we experience, know, and hopefully even feel, we can go out with joy to let the light of Christ burn for all to see.
The bridegroom is near. Let us go out to meet him!