Pope Francis comments on the Parable of the wise and foolish virgins in his remarks before the Angelus on November 12, 2017, in St. Peter’s Square. He reminded those listening in the square and on television that “we must be ready for our encounter with Him. Jesus often exhorts in the Gospel to watch and He does so also at the end of this story”: “Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13).
“Being wise and prudent: it’s about not waiting for the last moment of our life to collaborate with God’s grace, but to do so already from now on.” The Holy Father said. He recommended that “It would be good to think a bit: one day will be the last. If it were today, how prepared am I?”
The Pope stressed that “He tells us that to watch doesn’t mean only not to sleep, but to be ready.” He continued, “The condition to be ready for the encounter with the Lord is not only faith but a Christian life rich in love and charity for our neighbor.”
Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
This Sunday’s Gospel (Cf. Matthew 25:1-13), points out to us the condition to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and it does so with the parable of the ten virgins: it’s about those bridesmaids who were in charge of receiving and accompanying the bridegroom to the wedding ceremony and, as at that time is was customary to celebrate it at night, the bridesmaids were equipped with lamps.
The parable says that five of these virgins were wise and five foolish: the wise, in fact, brought oil with them for the lamps, while the foolish didn’t bring any. The bridegroom was delayed in arriving and they all fell asleep. At midnight the arrival of the bridegroom was announced. Then the foolish virgins realized they had no oil for the lamps, and they asked the wise for some. However, the latter answered that they couldn’t give them any because there wouldn’t be enough for all. So when the foolish went to look for oil, the bridegroom arrived. The wise virgins went in with him to the banquet, and the door was shut. The five foolish ones returned too late. They knocked at the door but the answer was: “I do not know you” (v. 12) and they remained outside.
What does Jesus want to teach us with this parable? He reminds us that we must be ready for our encounter with Him. Jesus often exhorts in the Gospel to watch and He does so also at the end of this story: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (v. 13). However, with this parable, He tells us that to watch doesn’t mean only not to sleep, but to be ready. In fact, all the virgins slept before the bridegroom’s arrival, but when they awakened, some were ready and others not. Here, therefore, is the meaning of being wise and prudent: it’s about not waiting for the last moment of our life to collaborate with God’s grace, but to do so already from now on. It would be good to think a bit: one day will be the last. If it were today, how prepared am I? But I must do this and that … One must be prepared as if it were the last day: this does one good.
The lamp is the symbol of faith that illumines our life, while the oil is the symbol of the charity that nourishes, makes fruitful and credible the light of faith. The condition to be ready for the encounter with the Lord is not only faith but a Christian life rich in love and charity for our neighbor. If we let ourselves be guided by what seems to us more comfortable, by the pursuit of our interests, our life becomes sterile, incapable of giving life to others, and we don’t accumulate any oil stock for the lamp of our faith; and the latter — faith — will go out the moment of the Lord’s coming, or even before. If, instead, we are vigilant and we seek to do good, with gestures of love, of sharing, of service to our neighbour in difficulty, we can remain at peace while we await the coming of the bridegroom: the Lord can come at any moment, and even the sleep of death doesn’t scare us, because we have the reserve of oil, accumulated with the good works of every day. Faith inspires charity and charity guards faith.
May the Virgin Mary help us to make our faith ever more operative through charity, so that our lamp can shine already here, on the earthly journey and then forever, at the wedding feast in Paradise.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Proclaimed Blessed yesterday at Madrid were Vicente Queralt Lloret and 20 companions martyrs, and Jose Maria Fernandez Sanchez and 38 companions martyrs. Some of the new Blesseds were members of the Congregation of the Mission: priests, Brothers, coadjutors, novices; others were laymen belonging to the Association of the Miraculous Medal. All of them were killed out of hatred for the faith, during the religious persecution, which happened in the course of the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and ’37.
I greet all of you, families, parishes, Associations and individual faithful, who have come from Italy and from many parts of the world. In particular, I greet the pilgrims from Washington, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and New York; the Saint Mary Magdalene parish choir of Nuragus (Sardinia) <and> the Faithful of Tuscania, Ercolano and Venice; the Bowling Society of Rosta and the Confirmation candidates of Galzignano. I wish you all a good Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me.
Have a good lunch and goodbye!
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]