The oil of personal encounter
After COVID restrictions were lifted, a few women started meeting in the parish kitchen to reconnect. We planned a long awaited day trip to Marian Valley. I was one of the drivers and three amazing women traveled with me. When I read this weekend’s Gospel it reminded me of when thirty minutes into our drive my petrol light turned on. “Oh no! How could I have missed that? How irresponsible!” Of course, everyone reassured me that we could fill up along the way. The conversation continued and the lovely scenery kept whipping past. However, I couldn’t be in the moment. The joy of the chatting dulled and the view of the vegetation overshadowed by my concern. In the end, it was a really special day but worry could’ve been avoided as it had robbed me of being fully present.
The Kingdom of Heaven is often compared to a wedding banquet. Jesus, our divine bridegroom, comes to collect and bring his bride, the church, into union with the Holy Trinity. In this parable the ten virgins are waiting, five are well prepared with lamps and flasks filled with oil and five haven’t thought it through and have no stores. When the bridegroom eventually comes late into the night, the drowsy virgins wake up and prepare their lamps to welcome him. Sadly, the five foolish virgins become distracted and filled with worry when they realise they are going to run out of oil and need an alternative plan. They unfortunately miss out. The wise virgins, however, receive the presence of the bridegroom and celebrate in the wedding feast.
Oil in the scriptures has many meanings and contexts; the oil of welcoming and anticipation by the wise virgins, the oil of healing by the Good Samaritan, the oil of anointing by Mary of Bethany. Ultimately, oil is a symbol of a very deep and personal gesture and in turn relationship with God.
We are all given the Holy Spirit when we welcome Jesus into our lives and the void in our hearts, reserved only for God, begins to fill.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10). So how can we make sure that our heart is filled to the brim with this oil of personal encounter? We can spend time learning about God and his Word; growing in his presence with prayer, adoration and worship; serving one another in community and sharing Jesus with others. To befriend and love Jesus is to live a life of abundance, where both lamp and flask are full and we will never be caught off guard by a life of emptiness, missing out on being filled with his presence.
Vanessa is reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel Matthew 25:1-13