Preparing for Mass this weekend, doing some work on the parish bulletin and wondering about the Gospel passage about the wise and foolish bridesmaids. I found myself having a bit of a re-think. In the past, I felt the wise bridesmaids were a bit dry, to be honest, and that they could have shared the oil with the others. I had images of the foolish ones being better fun – maybe even better company. That might still be the case but, as I say, I had a bit of a re-think. This is the piece I found myself writing for the frontpage of our Parish Bulletin and I thought I might share it here as well …..
Cuteness – in the context of “being cute” or sly is surely among the least admirable traits in any person. The one who slips away when it’s his or her turn to buy a drink, pay for a meal or do what needs doing. We all know them – the ones who seem to disappear just at the right moment and re-surface when the coast is clear. Not alone do we know them, we often resent them – not least, because they catch us out again and again.
They’re at every meeting and in every gathering. Avoiding the moment where commitment is called for and a task needs doing. Keeping quiet long enough for someone else to volunteer or be asked do what needs doing. They’re in sports clubs, on football teams, backrooms – they’re in offices, schools and churches and they’re in the home too. People taking advantage of people. Yes, they’re everywhere!
Certainly they’re in this weekend’s Gospel Passage. The five “foolish” ones who, in their own minds, were anything but. They knew, it seems, how to play the system. Just do enough to get by. Just enough oil, just enough time, just enough sleep – all the while ignoring what others were doing in the name of doing the right thing. “We’ll get by”, seemed to be their motto “someone will have enough to make up for our shortfall”. It always worked for them.
Not this time though! When the crunch came the others felt “enough was enough” or maybe that they’d not have enough. “You’d best go to those who sell it and get some for yourselves”. There was a time this seemed harsh [to me], less than Christian even, but now it’s less clear that’s the reality. It’s likely the other five had their fill of “cuteness” and thought “No more; this has to stop”.
In some circles this is called “tough love”.