Imagine this scenario. When you wake up each morning, your account in the bank receives $86,400 for that day. But at the end of the day, when you sleep, the amount is gone. So, during the day, you have to spend the whole amount. Furthermore, the bank can close your account at any time without warning. Hence, it is all the more necessary for you to spend that money on that day. But $86,400 is a big amount to use up for one day. So you may need to spend it for your loved ones and other people as well, even those you do not know.
Actually, this is not an imaginary scenario. It is the reality! Each of us possesses such a magical bank, which we oftentimes take for granted. This magical bank is TIME!
Each morning when we wake up, we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life. And when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us. What we have not lived up that day is forever lost. Yesterday is forever gone. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve our account at any time, without warning! Death comes suddenly. So, what shall we do with our 86,400 seconds? Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars. (Anon)The parable of the ten virgins is about the wise use of time. Five of the virgins were wise – they certainly took their time in bringing along with them flasks of oil for their lamps. The other five virgins were foolish because they did not bring provisions for their lamps. They must not be serious in the task entrusted to them. And worse, while idly waiting for the bridegroom, they did not use their time to fill up their lamps with oil. So, when he arrived, they had to scamper in the night, looking for oil. But they were too late. When they returned, the door was closed, and they were not anymore allowed to enter the wedding feast.
Christ is the Bridegroom who is coming. The virgins represent mankind. The time of waiting is a symbol of our life on earth. We are an advent people, eagerly and patiently waiting for the coming of the Lord. In this period of waiting, we are reminded to make use of our time to prepare well for the coming of Christ. Our preparation is not in terms of material provisions, but spiritual and Christian virtues necessary to make ourselves worthy to join Jesus in His wedding banquet in heaven. This is what the oil symbolizes. It is an internal character – a personal virtue, a personal condition of readiness and preparedness. That is the reason why the wise virgins could not share their oil with the other five.
In the meantime, while we still have the time in the world, we have to make the necessary preparations to meet the Lord. Unfortunately, many people are like the foolish virgins. They have all the time in their hands, but they are not using it for their spiritual preparation.
What are the ways of preparation that we need to spend our time on? First, study. Most of us have spent many years in school, studying science, mathematics, communication arts, history and many others. But all these fields of study are aimed at preparing ourselves only for our life in this world, and nothing beyond. On the other hand, how much time have we spent studying catechism, the sacraments, and the Bible? These are matters that are necessary for our entry into eternal life, but we unfortunately take for granted and neglect.
Second, prayer. Many people go about their daily affairs without even finding time to pray. Their usual excuse is because they are too busy. What they fail to realize is that, “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor; If the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil.” Prayer is our way of staying connected with God. The Lord Jesus himself said it: “I am the vine, you are the branches; apart from me you can do nothing.” As St. Alphonsus Liguori said, “Those who pray are surely saved. Those who do not pray are surely lost.” Needless to say, the Mass is the most perfect form of prayer. Regularly receiving the Body of Christ in Holy Communion helps us establish an intimate relationship and union with the coming Bridegroom.
Third, good works. Jesus said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Acts of charity and generosity towards others, especially the poor and underprivileged, are the heavenly treasures that we ought to accumulate while we still have time and opportunities. In fact, Jesus identified himself with the poor: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Being close to the Lord through our loving service to the poor will surely prepare us for his imminent coming.
These are the three things we must seriously and generously invest our time on, the three feet (tripod) on which every Christian stands: prayer (worship), study (education) and good works (service). These are the oil that will keep our lamp of faith continually burning until we meet the Bridegroom, ready to enter his eternal Wedding Feast.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Sta. Lucia Church
JP Rizal Street, Bgy. Sta. Lucia
Novaliches, Quezon City 1117