The Catholic Defender: Prepare Yourself
Matthew 25:1-13 states, "Jesus told his disciples this parable: 'The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out'. But the wise ones replied, 'No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.' While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, 'Lord, open the door for us!' But he said in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.' Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour". Jesus is definitely making it clear that we need to be ready! No one knows the day nor the hour in which the Lord Jesus will return. The message coming from the universal Church, the holy Catholic Church, is to "prepare yourself" every day.
It has been said, "Show me how you spend your time and I'll tell you what's important to you". It is important that we do set priorities establishing goals. The five virgins who brought their flasks of oil with their lamps were focused and ready. The other five allowed themselves to be concerned with the things of the world. They took their eye off the ball, their relationship with Jesus. How many times I have seen this with those who abandoned the Catholic Faith because they too took their eye off what is important.
St. Paul spoke of such stating, "While claiming to be wise they became fools instead" turning from what is true to that which is worldly. Just like the five virgins who were not ready when the bridegroom did arrive, these were found wanting. They tried to fill their void not with the "Oil of Salvation", they tried to fill their flasks with those things that are empty. These are led astray by false doctrine, false philosophy, sin and vice. As a result, the bridegroom did not recognize them.
Recently, my wife and I was watching a favorite movie we like, "SecondHand Lions" when I became struck how the movie tied things together in the lives of the characters starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, and Haley Joel Osment.
The story telling and the adventure thickens as the plot builds the excitement of the movie. As the young boy finds courage through the example of his uncles, the words "prepare yourself" or to say, "defend yourself" demonstrates a determination to face danger. I have heard priests from the pulpit raise the importance that the faithful also needs to fill their flasks of oil, as to "prepare yourself".
A Catholic priest is not just like any other preacher or minister of another faith. Our faith teaches that at his ordination, a priest's soul is permanently changed when the Bishop lays his hands on the head of the man to be ordained. And this change is permanent - it can never be taken away: "You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek".
John 6:53 says: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you". Along with the other Sacraments, the Eucharist, which is what this passage is referring to, happens at every Catholic Mass. As a result of the grace given through the administering of the Sacraments, we are preparing ourselves, still a work in progress, we are on the journey. Not with flasks half filled, but full of grace. The bridegroom recognizes the faithful Catholic because he recognizes the Holy Spirit's work of grace in the soul of the Believer. All of the baptized have been radically changed, their souls have been given a mark that will never be taken away. Some may deny and reject their baptism, but the mark is there nonetheless. The Prodigals must return (James 5:19-20).
Our baptism makes us a new creation in Christ, hence, "Prepare Yourself". It is simply not just a slogan! With our Baptism, we become forever changed. All the Sacraments work to transform us and build in us, a soul designated to God. This journey is filled with all kinds of adventure and as you look backward, every story is inspiring and important.
With the free gift of grace and Our Faith, we must co-operate with the Lord's gift and grow our faith through prayer, learning of Scripture and Church Teaching, the Saints, particularly Our Spiritual Mother, the Virgin Mary. Instead of claiming to be wise, let us truly be wise by filling our flasks with God's grace, then we will be truly wise bringing souls to the bridegroom.