Parables of Jesus


Parables of wisdom

Name of the Parable:

- The ten Virgins
- The wise virgins
- The ten girls


The ten Virgins

From the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25, Verses 1-13

The kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five wise; the foolish took the lamps, but took no oil with them; the wise ones instead, together with the lamps, also took oil in small vessels. As the bridegroom was late, they all dozed off and slept. At midnight a cry arose: "Here is the bridegroom, go to him!" Then all those virgins woke up and prepared their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: Give us of your oil, because our lamps go out. But the wise ones answered: No, that he did not fail for us and for you; go rather to the sellers and buy them. Now, while they were going to buy oil, the bridegroom arrived and the virgins that were ready entered with him at the wedding, and the door was closed. Later the other virgins also arrived and began to say: Lord, sir, open to us! But he replied: Verily I say unto you, I not know you. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

exegesis parable

The meaning of this parable is relative to the expectation of the coming of the Lord, when the Son of man will appear above the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. This return of the Lord has already happened for that generation that listened to this word, it happened with the resurrection. For us this resurrection as it is proclaimed, that is the return of the Lord, is the daily proclamation of the Gospel, because His Word is exactly the instrument with which it makes itself present now.

This parable speaks of ten virgins, of whom five are wise and five are foolish, and all of them are waiting for the bridegroom; we must reflect on the image that is proposed to us here: Jesus draws it from the prophets, in Isaiah and above all in Hosea who use this spousal vision, well known to the disciples and the people who then listened to him. The prophets, when they refer to spousal terms, mean the people of God, the people of Israel, the holy people, or the bride of God.

In the biblical book of Hosea there is a passage, in which the Lord reproaches Israel as the bride who betrayed her husband to run after the lovers (see Os 2,4-15). The denunciation of the state of prostitution of the people of Israel is the spousal argument that characterizes the whole of the old testament and it is the state that has reprehensibly reached the relationship of the people of God with God himself.

Jesus takes up this symbolism, referring to ten virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom: the virgins are a symbol of purity and fidelity, that is, of how the people of God should be. However, the parable states that this people is made up of wise people and by foolish people, yet all of them are there waiting for the bridegroom. By mentioning the presence of the foolish virgins, Jesus alludes to high priests, scribes and Pharisees, or to that part of Israel that gave credit to its own doctrine, to a completely human law: they will be precisely those who will not recognize the Son of man.

The wise virgins, on the other hand, are those who seek God, believe and, seeing that the "bridegroom" (their God incarnate in Jesus) come to meet them, will recognize him and believe in him. These two realities, the wise and foolish virgins, in appearance they do not stand out, as both are with the lamp on; in fact, returning to the analogy mentioned, even Pharisees and scribes in their own way seek God, but are unable to follow His will and to recognize Him in Jesus.

The parable leads us to the cry: "Here is the bridegroom!" That cry highlights a very important detail: at that precise moment the foolish virgins realize they no longer have any oil. The cry corresponds to the announcement, the announcement of the resurrection, and following the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus which makes His presence manifest in that time and in the centuries to follow. What effect does this cry generate? What happen? Now the two groups stand out clearly: on the one hand there are those who have oil, on the other those who do not have oil. Yet all ten virgins were waiting for his coming, with oil supplies, so much so that initially, in their expectation, they all had the lamp on.

What then distinguishes the wise from the foolish? The fact that the first ones are also provided with reserve oil and, when the groom comes and invites them to follow him, the wise virgins can do it, the foolish ones do not. Even that reserve oil is a symbol: it represents who recognized in Jesus the manifestation of God and, recognizing him, can enter the wedding room that is in communion with God. The foolish instead, taken back by the arrival of the groom, they go to look for the oil, but when they come back they are told: "I don't know you". They represent those who seek God with presumption, and do not recognize Him in Jesus: this is why the door is closed for them, they will not participate in the marriage, they will not enjoy the presence of the bridegroom, they will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus himself had said it: "I am the door: if anyone enters through me, he will be saved" (Jn 10: 9); who does not recognize him and does not take Him as a guide, cannot therefore enter the house of the Father. This is what happens when the resurrection is announced, but also every time the Gospel of Jesus is proclaimed: when Paul testifies that he was sent to preach it among the Gentiles, he does not worry that they do not have a tradition as a people of God, but accepts without hesitation in the certainty that the power of the Word can hold on to all the hearts that sincerely seek God.

It applies to everyone, without exception and at any time! Now it is up to you to accept this Word, moved by the desire to meet God. If you seek Him with a sincere heart in Jesus, do not be afraid: when you hear its voice, you will recognize it and in the end you will be invited to enter to participate in the wedding that will allow you to be eternally in communion with God.


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