Choose your language EoF

Gospel for Sunday, November 12: Matthew 25:1-13

XXXII Sunday A

1Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise; 3the foolish took their lamps, but they did not take oil with them; 4the wise, on the other hand, along with their lamps, also took oil in small vessels. 5Because the bridegroom was late, they all dozed and fell asleep. 6At midnight a cry went up, “Here is the bridegroom! Go meet him!” 7Then all those virgins arose and prepared their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps go out.” 9The wise answered, “No, lest it fail us and you; rather go to the sellers and buy some.” 10Now, as those went to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and the virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding, and the door was shut. 11Later the other virgins also arrived and began to say, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” 12But he answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour

Mt 25:1-13

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather ( Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

Three parables on vigilance

“At the conclusion of the liturgical year, on this and the next two Sundays the church offers us the reading of Mt 25, the second part of the great eschatological discourse, that is, about the end of time, made by Jesus in chapters 24-25.

Matthew read in Mark these words of Jesus: “Take heed, watch (agrypneîte), for you do not know when the time is… Watch (gregoreîte) therefore: you do not know when the master of the house will return, whether in the evening or at midnight or at cockcrow or in the morning … What I say to you, I say to everyone: watch (gregoreîte)!” (Mk 13:33, 35, 37).

Beginning with that admonition, Matthew recalled and placed at this point three of the Lord’s parables on what it means to be vigilant (cf. Mt 24:45-25:30), followed by the great fresco on the final judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Given the delay of the parousia, of Christ’s glorious coming-at least in our eyes, if it is true that “before the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a single day” (2 Pet. 3:8)-how are we to live our here and now?” (E. Bianchi).

The three parables show us that each of us has two paths before us, the path of good and the path of evil. The first parable (Mt 24:45-51) tells us that the servant can either be faithful and wise or wicked. The second (Mt 25:1-13) presents us with five wise virgins (the adjective “phr’nimos” comes from “prhen,” “heart,” i.e., intelligence), contrasted with five foolish virgins (“moròs” means ungodly, profane, therefore foolish). The third parable (Mt 25:14-30) tells us of two faithful servants who make use of the talents they have received, and a wicked one who buries it.

The urgency of not falling asleep

Today we meditate on the second parable. Parable full of oddities: the virgins accompanying the bridegroom and not the bride, the sleeping of all the maidens in the course of a wedding feast even though it lasted until late, the buying of oil at night, the door of the banquet being closed… But above all, the behavior of the bridegroom is astonishing; in my book “God’s Injustice and Other Anomalies of His Love,” I called this passage “The Parable of the Rude Bridegroom.” Says biblical scholar K. Berger: “The bridegroom of Mt 25:1-3 is a villain. He behaves toward the young women with disproportionate harshness. He, who arrives late, evidently feels no need to apologize and takes it out on those whose lamp oil was not enough for the period of his absence. He sends away, at night, half of the young people invited to the wedding, just like that. At that time there were no cabs or street lighting. The groom even claims not to know these women at all.”

But we are faced with the literary genre of paradox, so many times used by Jesus to express important revelations: if we do not get used to the genre of paradox we cannot understand the Gospels, or we make a fundamentalist reading of them.

Here Jesus wants to emphasize the urgency of “watchfulness,” of being alert, always ready, of never falling asleep in our Christian life.

Watching, in the proper sense, means staying awake during the night to do something important. In the Old Testament, the prophet is compared to a sentinel who must always be on the alert to warn of dangers and to announce the coming of the Lord (Sl 130:6). The priests in the temple must keep watch during the night and bless the Lord (Sl 134:1). The pious Israelite is to “watch with all care over his heart” (Pr 4:23), “listening to wisdom and keeping watch at its gates every day” (Pr 8:34), and “he who watches for wisdom will soon be without troubles” (Wis 6:15). And the woman in the Song of Songs states, “I sleep, but my heart keeps watch” (Song 5:2), as she awaits the arrival of her beloved.

“Vigilance is the matrix of every human and Christian virtue, it is the salt of all action, it is the light of thinking, listening and speaking of every human. One cannot fail to recall, in this regard, the keen insight of the great Basil at the conclusion of his Moral Rules: ‘What is specific to the Christian? To watch every day and every hour and be ready in fully doing the will of God, knowing that in the hour we do not think the Lord comes (cf. Mt. 24:44; Lk. 12:40)'” (80:22)… To watch, to be vigilant, is to go out to meet the Lord with the lamps of desire lit; it is to be wise, that is, ready to live the long time of waiting with the help of the oil of intelligence… Struggling every day not to let our lives be weighed down by routine, by the repetitiveness of the everyday, which is still God’s today, the only gateway in the world to the Lord’s final coming: ‘Blessed are those servants whom the Lord at his coming will find watchful!’ (Lk 12:37)” (E. Bianchi).

As Paul also reminds us in what is the earliest New Testament writing, the First Letter to the Thessalonians, “You, brothers, are not in darkness, so that that day may surprise you like a thief… Let us therefore not sleep like others, but be vigilant and sober” (1 Thess 5:4-6).

Watching is thus a sign of continual seeking of God, perseverance in faith, and continual conversion. It is putting God first always, in every circumstance of life.

Watching over our heart

Pope Francis admonishes us, “Watch to guard our hearts and understand what is going on inside. This is the disposition of mind of Christians who await the final coming of the Lord; but it can also be understood as the ordinary attitude to have in the conduct of life, so that our good choices, made sometimes after demanding discernment, can continue in a persevering and consistent way and bear fruit. If vigilance is lacking, the danger that all will be lost is very great. This is not a danger of psychological order, but of spiritual order, a real insidiousness of the evil spirit… So many times we lose, we are defeated in battles, because of this lack of vigilance. So many times, perhaps, the Lord has given so many graces and in the end we are not able to persevere in this grace and we lose everything, because we lack vigilance: we have not guarded the doors… We must remain vigilant, guard our hearts. If I were to ask each of us today and also myself, “What is going on in your heart?” we may not be able to say everything: we will say one or two things, but not everything. Coward the heart, because vigilance is a sign of wisdom, it is a sign above all of humility, because we are afraid of falling and humility that is the high road of the Christian life.”

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


Spazio Spadoni

You might also like