Good morning from London’s mid summer winter!

Yesterday we had an interesting gospel reading. It was that one with both the wise and foolish virgins and while the wise virgins had purchased oil for the journey, the foolish did not.

What does this mean to us?

Well the virgins were on a journey to meet the bridegroom…so are we, the journey of life after which we’ll meet Jesus.

The oil for the journey symbolizes the Holy Spirit which we can fill ourselves with over our lives by choosing to live lives of prayer and if we are catholic by making full use of the sacraments.

The foolish virgins are the people who waste their lives on the things of this world, who never seek forgiveness or God and who adapt the “she’ll be right attitude”.

The most interesting past is at the end when the foolish virgins suddenly realise their mistake and ask the wise ones for oil.

The wise ones refused and said “go and buy your own”.

How unchristian you may think?

Perhaps yes if the story was really about oil but it’s not, it’s about grace and some things you can’t borrow from other people, you need to get your own!

Grace is one of these things. You can’t get to heaven because your mother prayed for you or because God wants you to go there. You can’t get to heaven because your friends and the saints are already there….No! You can only get to heaven by repenting in your heart, but surrendering your life and will to Jesus and by accepting His way and His terms conditions.

Now the foolish ones went off to buy oil but it was too late and when they knocked on the door the master slammed it shut and said “I do not know you”.

Again at a first glance it can seem that God is lacking in mercy if he treats someone like this even if they only come to Him at the last minute like on their deathbeds.

Clearly this is not the meaning as we know that Jesus will save anyone that repents even if it is at the end.

So what does it mean then?!

It’s about the people that want to go to heaven alright but that do not want to accept Jesus as Lord nor do they want to repent for the sins of their lives.

They want heaven on their conditions and not on God’s.

And that is where God draws a line. He loves us but He won’t let us take Him for a ride.

Sadly I know many people with this attitude in my life. They are fairly pleasant and nice but as soon as one mentions prayer or repentance or purifying one’s soul their eyes roll. If I really want to test them I’ll talk about purgatory and hell and the tension in the room will be palpable.

These people are like the foolish virgins who think that when they die they’ll just knock on the doors of heaven with a smile and a cake and say “daddy I’m home’.

Yet this is not how to enter heaven! We enter heaven by purifying our souls and not by being nice!

We enter heaven through lives of prayer and sacrifice and witness to the power of Jesus and the sacraments.

We enter through repentance, prayer for ourselves and others, prayers for the souls in purgatory, living lives of charity, love of Our Lady….

So let’s not be fooling ourselves or be like the foolish virgins who thought that they could pull the wool over God’s eyes. Let’s rather dedicate our lives to God, to prayer, to forgiveness and to love so that when the Lord does come our lanterns will be full and we will enter into eternal happiness with Jesus.

“Today is the first day of the rest of our lives”. Let’s use it wisely!

Michael