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Questions and Answers

I read Bishop Knecht’s commentary on the 10 virgins. I understand what he is saying about the story itself. What I am not getting is how it compares with stories of God’s mercy. The five virgins that initially weren’t prepared did go and prepare and knocked on the door. They were refused. How does it all fit into the parable about the sheep being found? Are the five virgins sheep that were found? Maybe I am being dense, but it seems like a contradiction to the other stories I am familiar with. It has me confused and there must be an aspect of all of it that I have missed.

 
There’s an old saying about not trying to compare apples and oranges. It has something to do with the fact that even though an apple and an orange may have the same basic geometrical shape, the two fruits are different in regard to all their other qualities.

So, in regard to your question, let’s say that it’s important not to confuse sheep and virgins.

In other parables, the lost sheep are those persons who are lost in sin and need to be called back to the Church, where, through their repentance they can find forgiveness for their sins.

In this Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the virgins represent those persons already in the Church, and, as Bishop Knecht so astutely explains, this is a parable about the necessity of both faith and good works in a Christian life.

All of the virgins carry the lamp of faith as they await the coming of the bridegroom. But the groom is delayed; the virgins fall asleep, and while they sleep, their lamps consume oil. Then the bridegroom arrives unexpectedly. And at this point we see the difference between the foolish virgins and the wise virgins. The foolish virgins, caught by surprise, and not having extra oil, must go off to acquire more oil. The wise virgins, having brought extra oil with them, were ready to be received into the wedding.

Now, the oil represents the oil of good works, and the intent of the parable is to remind us that because death often arrives unexpectedly, we must never become lax in keeping the Faith through the good works of sacrifice, obedience, and prayer. 

The foolish virgins, therefore, represent lukewarm Christians through the ages who hold their faith only intellectually and fail to nourish it with constant prayer, penance, and sacrifice for others. Thus they will be locked out of heaven because of their lack of preparedness for heaven.[1]

And why wouldn’t the wise virgins share their oil with the foolish virgins? The answer is simple: each person is personally responsible for his or her own salvation. No attempt to borrow on the good works of others at the last minute will save you from what you have failed to do yourself during the course of your life.

 

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Notes

1. In the technical sense, Christ doesn’t lock anyone out of heaven; souls lock themselves out through their own behavior. It’s very similar to the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), in which one man, by refusing to put on the wedding garment provided for him by the King, is bound and cast out into the darkness. Thus those who refuse the garment of sanctifying grace given in baptism essentially remain bound in sin and cast themselves into the darkness of eternal separation from God.

 


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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.