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In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. This parable is a challenge to our lazy attitudes and the need for immediate preparation. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of extra oil with their lamps. When the bridegroom came, the wise ones were ready to meet him and went into the wedding feast with him; then the room was locked. The foolish ones went to meet the bridegroom without oil and therefore they had no light so the bridegroom could not see them. The foolish ones said, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” The Lord said, “I do not know you.” The Lord did not know the foolish ones because of their own inaction; they did not prepare well and they were lazy people. Our daily lives and actions will decide whether our lives are going to be saved or not.

Let me share with you a cute story about “The Rabbit and the Turtle”, which I studied in second grade. A rabbit was so proud of how fast he could run. He was always laughing and teasing the turtle for being so slow. One day the turtle decided to challenge the rabbit to a competition. The rabbit accepted the competition. As the race began, the rabbit raced ahead of the turtle. The rabbit reached halfway and the rabbit could not see the turtle anywhere. The rabbit was so tired and decided to stop and take a short nap. During this time the turtle kept walking step by step until he reached the finish line. The rabbit woke up and he could not see the turtle anywhere! The rabbit went at full speed to the finish line only to find the turtle waiting for him at the finish line!

This small story gives us the message that to recognize our own strength and weakness are the key to success and that pride and laziness are our enemies. Also, we can learn not to compare ourselves with another person and not to underestimate the weakest opponent. We should be always steady and well prepared!

Today’s gospel parable also tells us that “Be prepared” always! For us, being prepared means to do the right things at the right moments. It means that we have chosen a way of life that supports our actions with the teachings of Jesus and we are prepared to help those in need. Oil can be seen as representing all that we do to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord. One of the best ways to fill our lamps is to feed the hungry and to visit the sick and imprisoned; by doing this, we are adding oil to our lamps and preparing for the day when we will stand before the Lord.

We might wonder if we listen to Jesus and do good works, “Why did the wise virgins refuse to share their oil with the foolish? After all, are we not called to share what we have with others?” Being ready to stand before Jesus is a personal responsibility. Each of us needs to nurture our own relationship with the Lord and put His teachings into practice in our daily lives. No one else can do this for us; we have to know Jesus and He has to know us, personally.

So, now is the time to examine and reflect upon how much oil is in our flasks. We should fill our flasks – which represent our lives — with the oil of love, the oil of forgiveness, the oil of compassion, and the oil of generosity. It is not too late for us. Let us prepare our lives for a deeper relationship with the bridegroom, with Christ, by putting His words into practice and by treating everyone with love and respect.

Each sunrise brings an opportunity. No matter how bad the day before was, today is brand new. When we wake up, we can seek the strength and courage to do the right thing. When we make a mistake, we can choose to learn from it, correct it, and prepare for the next point. When we are feeling down, we can fight hard against our negative attitude, and come back with a positive attitude. Let us try to be “slow and steady” so as to win the most important ‘race of our life’!