This week’s Gospel reflection sees Jesus tell the story of 10 bridesmaids or young virgins five of whom are described as being “silly”, the other five noted as being “smart” (The Message Paraphrase).
This is an uncomfortable read, indeed the first of three uncomfortable reads where Christ lays out some home truths for His disciples, indeed us all…
The story of the “silly” and “smart” bridesmaids (Matthew 25 v 1 to 13).
The story of the use of “talents”. (Matthew 25 v 14 to 30).
The story of the “sheep” and “goats”. (Matthew 25 v 31 to 46).
Stories told by Christ Himself to His closest followers, all on the run in to the Passover Feast, His trial and Crucifixion.
Not so much Jesus as meek and mild, rather Jesus as the One who exercises judgement, holds His disciples (and us) to account? As noted earlier, an uncomfortable read.
“Inclusivity” is all the rage. Voices across society be they young, old, female, male, from varied ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, physical and mental health, environmental and racial view points often compete to be included. Witness the Black Lives Matters movement in the US and the UK. A movement fuelled by the stories of Black and Ethnic minority men and women and their lived experience. Voices that need heard and inclusion that is hard won. So many who seek a “bridegroom” to offer inclusion, warmth and conversation around the table.
Back to the ten bridesmaids then. Five “silly”, five “smart”. Five harried, distracted, unprepared according to Christ’s parable. Five, who find the doors to the wedding banquet closed. Five who miss out on one of the best occasions of their lives.
Five who are invited and included but somehow end up on the outside.
A cautionary tale, no doubt.
One that might, this Advent season, keep us on our toes as we await the bridegroom.
Prepared, ready, willing to be included.
Prepared, ready and extending the invitation to others facing their exclusion (whatever form that may take) to…
“Come on in!”