November 12, 2023 — 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lately I’ve been enjoying the deep meaning of Eastern icons. I love how they express a tapestry of meaning in a way that can surpass the written or spoken word. Today’s parable of the ten virgins from Jesus is a good example. Try googling “wise and foolish virgins icon” and you’ll see an image of how our Christ meets our heart’s deepest needs if we attend to him with the proper attitude.
I’m serious. Take a moment to google and look at it. See how it depicts the risen Jesus behind a closed door with the five wise virgins with lighted lamps. He gazes with them toward the five foolish and lamp-less virgins, symbolizing the outward looking of divine love for the lost. Moreover, the wedding feast is no ordinary one. It takes place in a walled city and garden, indicating it’s a new Jerusalem and a return to Eden. The table isn’t typical, either. It’s a Eucharistic feast. Now we see that the door in Jesus’ parable is the way into the church, where Christ is the new light burning amidst the dark midnight of this world.
The richness continues. We notice, too, that the foolish virgins look exactly the same as the wise ones in their clothes, hair, and expressions. The only difference is they departed to buy oil and now they are sadly excluded. We often act like consumers in the marketplace to fulfill our need for love and mercy. We’ll always end up disappointed if we shop around. Jesus sums up the moral of the story this way: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Watch, remain, don’t spiritually shop. It is always better to quietly remain close to the Eucharistic community of the Church, even if we feel like our oil has run out. This week let’s consider placing the icon of the wise and foolish virgins on our phone lock screen or computer desktop to help us remember to stay close to him, especially when life feels dark.
— Father John Muir ©LPi