During this week, many scriptural themes are placed before us to us to rouse us from our sleep and inspire us to keep watch for the coming of the Bridegroom, Christ. Some of these themes include: the parable of the talents, the image of the sterile fig tree which Jesus curses, the account of the Last Judgment, the sinful woman who washes Jesus' feet with her tears, and others.
One of these primary themes is the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). There are many ways to interpret this parable, and many saints have given diverse and beautiful reflections. Today, let's allow St. Macarius the Great to speak to us about the oil which filled the lamps of the five wise virgins:
"The five wise virgins, watchful and alert, had taken oil in the vessels of their heart. That oil, not part of their own nature, means the grace of the Spirit. They were enabled to enter with the Bridegroom into the heavenly bridal chamber. The other five virgins, however, were content with their own nature. They neither watched nor busied themselves to receive the oil of gladness [Ps. 44:6] in their vessels, while they were yet in the flesh. ... Held fast by their tie to the world, and by some earthly affection, they did not give their whole love or passionate devotion to the heavenly Bridegroom; thus they were not provided with oil" (Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily IV).
How encouraging to know that the oil which we need (the grace of the Spirit) doesn't come from us! God provides it! But we need to turn to Him and give Him our "whole love!" Let's try to do that, this week.
"My slothful soul has fallen into sleep, O Christ, my Spouse, and I do not have a lamp shining with the fire of virtues. I have become like the foolish virgins; for, instead of laboring, I have wasted my time. Do not close off your love and your heart to me, O Master; but dispel my dark slumber; awaken me that I may enter your palace with the wise virgins. There the choir of the just shall resound as they sing to You: O Lord, glory to You" (Stichera at the Praises, Matins of Great and Holy Tuesday).