Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer, the Pope delivered the traditional address Photo: Vatican Media

Pope Explains What Constitutes Wisdom and Foolishness

The Holy Father’s address on the occasion of the Angelus prayer, on Sunday, November 12, 2023

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 13.11.2023).- Some 20,000 people accompanied Pope Francis for the Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square, on Sunday, November 12. Before reciting the Marian prayer the Pontiff gave an address, which, as usual, focused on the Sunday Gospel.

Here is the Holy See’s translation into English of the Pope’s original address in Italian.

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Today’s Gospel offers us a story regarding the meaning of life of each person. It is the parable of the ten virgins, called to go out to meet the bridegroom (cf. Matthew 25:1-13). Living is this: a grand preparation for the day when we will be called to go to Jesus! However, in the parable of the ten virgins, five are wise and five foolish. Let us see what constitutes wisdom and foolishness. Wisdom in life, and foolishness in life.



All those bridesmaids are there to welcome the bridegroom, that is, they want to meet him, just as we too desire a happy fulfilment of life: the difference between wisdom and foolishness is therefore not in goodwill. Nor does it lie in the punctuality with which they arrive at the meeting: they were all there. The difference between the wise and the foolish is another: preparation. The text says: the wise «took flasks of oil with their lamps” (v. 4); the foolish, on the other hand, did not. Here is the difference: the oil. And what is one of the characteristics of the oil? That it cannot be seen: it is inside the lamps, it is not conspicuous, but without it the lamps have no light.

Let us look at ourselves, and we will see that our life runs the same risk: many times, we are very careful about our appearance — the important thing is to take good care of one’s image, to make a good impression in front of others. But Jesus says that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but which is more important, taking care of the heart. Nurturing the inner life. This means knowing how to stop and listen to one’s heart, to keep watch over one’s own thoughts and feelings. How many times are we unaware of what has happened in our heart that day? What happens within each one of us? Wisdom means knowing how to make room for silence, so as to be capable of listening to ourselves and to others. It means knowing how to give up some of the time passed in front of the telephone screen to look at the light in the eyes of others, in one’s own heart, in God’s gaze upon us. It means not falling into the trap of activism, but devoting time to the Lord, to listening to His Word.



And the Gospel gives us the right advice so as not to neglect the oil of the inner life, the “oil of the soul”: it tells us that it is important to prepare it. And in the account, we see, in fact, that the virgins already possess the lamps, but they must prepare the oil: they must go to the sellers, buy it, put it in the lamps . . . (cf. vv. 7-9). It is the same for us: the inner life cannot be improvised, it is not a matter of a moment, of once in a while, of once and for all; the inner life must be prepared by dedicating a little time every day, with constancy, as one does for every important thing.

So, we can ask ourselves: what am I preparing at this moment in life? Within myself, what am I preparing? Perhaps I am trying to put aside some savings, I am thinking about a house or a new car, concrete plans . . .  They are good things; they are not bad things. They are good things. But am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life? In short, how is the oil of my soul? Each one of us, let us ask ourselves this: how is the oil of my soul? Do I nourish it, do I keep it well?

May Our Lady help us to cherish the oil of inner life.


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