Replenishing our flame

| Jacqui Skemp | November 8, 2017 | 0 Comments
Oil Lamp


As the liturgical year comes to a close, the Church draws our attention to the ends and beginnings.

The Gospel reading for Nov. 12 is a reminder of the end of times and the glory of what is to come. More than that, it is a reminder of the present and what needs to be done here and now to prepare us for Christ the bridegroom.

I often find myself stumbling when I read one of Jesus’ parables, perhaps because I am dense to the truth being mirrored in a particular Scripture. I understand the symbolism of Christ as the bridegroom who arrives in the night, and the virgins as the Church waiting in hopeful anticipation for the return of our Lord. What makes me pause in this particular reading is the harshness of the wise virgins toward the foolish virgins. But then I am reminded that parables are stories that are cast alongside a truth. What truth is Jesus revealing to us here?

The Gospel reading is filled with literary chiaroscuro: the heavy darkness of midnight and the warmth of the oil-burning lamps. The joy of seeing the arrival of the bridegroom, and the sorrow of not having enough oil to keep the lamp light aflame. The celebration of the wedding feast, and those who were locked out. The wise and the foolish. A bounty of oil to maintain the burning flame, and the failure to keep it alive.

The light they keep is the light of faith, a faith that needs to be sustained, or it will fade into the darkness.

Our faith life begins with the flame of a small baptismal candle. Enlightened by Christ, that flame is protected by those surrounding us until we become adults, when the work becomes ours. And like the oil used to replenish the wise virgins’ lamps, we must also replenish our flame. Prayer, spiritual readings, regular confession and frequent reception of the Eucharist are ways we can do this.

Let us recommit ourselves to nurturing our spiritual flame, for we “know neither the day nor the hour.”

Skemp is a devotional writer for Blessed Is She, a ministry for Catholic women, and blogs at Skemp, her husband and their three sons are parishioners of St. Agnes in St. Paul.

Sunday, Nov. 12
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time


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Category: Sunday Scriptures