Standing at the side entrance of the Mariendom, in Erfurt, Germany, I stared up at the sculpture work. Adorning either side of the entryway were statues depicting the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins told in Matthew 25. On the one side of the door stood the joyful bridesmaids who had brought enough oil for their lamps to usher in the bridegroom. On the other side were the grieving and weeping figures who – having left to get more oil for their lamps – missed the arrival of the bridegroom and were shut out of the wedding banquet. A favorite parable of the medieval church, its meaning was clear – be prepared for the unexpected hour.
Like in the parable’s announcement of the arrival of the bridegroom, Isaiah and John the Baptist also cry out, declaring that the kingdom of God is near at hand. Listening to the prophets, we are challenged to live into God’s kingdom. Go and tell!
But it seems that going and telling is often much more difficult in today’s culture. There are so many distractions which can often keep us from following this calling. Work, cellphones, Facebook and family vie for our time. If we’re not careful, God can just as quickly be added to our to-do list. In our hope to stay connected, we end up compartmentalizing our lives. How can we be truly aware of God’s presence with us if we can’t be fully attentive? Quite simply, we can’t. Like the foolish bridesmaids, we end up carrying lamps that are only half-filled with oil.
Amidst the rush of the season, may we have the patience to allow ourselves to be filled with and share the Good News. As we wait for Christmas, let us be attentive to our God working in us and through us. With our lamps filled with oil, let us prepare ourselves to welcome the Word made Flesh.