It is obvious that this parable is about being ready. In verse 10 we read that “those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut” (RSV). The wise maidens were those who were ready when the bridegroom arrived.
For me the element of surprise in this well-known and often-preached parable is that those who were not ready when the bridegroom arrived were not caught off guard because he arrived too early, but because he arrived too late.
When I think back on my own experiences of not being ready, they usually were either because I was not prepared in good time for the moment or event, or because the event or moment or person simply arrived earlier than I had expected. Therefore the summons “be ready!” usually means “prepare in good time!”
But this is not the point of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:1-13. All ten maidens had made their preparations well in advance. The problem was that half of them did not remain prepared. The bridegroom did not arrive too early, but too late. And this was why some of them were unready.
The parable is about the importance of remaining in a state of readiness. Be ready – always! Continue to be ready – even though you may fall asleep. To be prepared for unexpected delays is part of being ready. Take into account that the journey may be longer and the task more tiring. The calling to which you answered may ask more from you than you can imagine now…
There is an alarming resemblance between the warning I hear in the parable of the ten maidens and what I observe of the HIV pandemic. In conversations I often hear references to “Aids fatigue” and “apathy”. Can it be that many Christians are not ready for what Christ expects from us in this time of HIV and Aids – not because this has come upon us too soon, but because HIV has been with us for too long?
To think about (or discuss): What does it mean to be prepared and to remain ready for Christ’s return in the midst of HIV and Aids?