Stay awake

Published August 27, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Manila Bulletin


In Palestine, on the actual day of the wedding, the groom, along with his friends, goes to the bride’s house towards evening to fetch her for the wedding ceremony. The bridal party is awaited by young females with torches (the virgins of the parable). When the groom’s party arrives, the bright procession proceeds to the wedding hall.

But the groom’s coming may be delayed and those who wait can fall asleep. Here Jesus draws the need to be “wise” and ever watchful. For the arrival of the groom may be the start of panic on the part of some bridesmaids who, in the dark, have to go and buy oil for their lamps, only to find out on their return that the groom and bride have left without them.

With regard to the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus underlines the symbolism of “being asleep” and “staying awake.” This is not to be taken literally, for in the parable all the girls become drowsy and fall asleep. “Sleep” here means spiritual unpreparedness, coldness, even death. When a person no longer cares for spiritual values, when he no longer respects God and human beings, he is spiritually asleep. This is what being “foolish” also means.

On the other hand, “being awake” means to be alive and dedicated to one’s Christian calling, active in the service of God and neighbor, living one’s life to the full, never postponing conversion to the last minute. This is being prepared and being “wise.”


Jesus told His disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them,  but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.  Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.  Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’  But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: