(Adults, I think of the 6-9 year old as in a time of KNOWING--knowing who calls them to build the Kingdom, knowing the rules of the Kingdom. They are approaching the time of doing, but they first need time to consider the choices, to know their options.
Begin by reading the Gospel to the child.)
In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus tells us another parable comparing the Kingdom of God to a wedding banquet. We will have to think carefully about what more Jesus might mean.
“Then the kingdom of God will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
In Jesus’ time, wedding banquets would go on for days! People would gather to wait for the bridegroom--the man getting married--to arrive. When he arrived, they would walk with him to the banquet. In this parable, there are 10 bridesmaids specially chosen to light the way for the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
An oil lamp is like a burning candle; the oil makes the light shine brightly.
As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.
Remember, in Jesus' time there is no electricity, no street lights. How important, then, are those lamps that the bridesmaids carry!
The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’
All of these women were chosen to light the way for the bridegroom. They would know that they would need oil to keep their lamp burning. They would know that they needed to prepare. We know that preparing means to get everything ready for something important. When we look forward to something, or wait for someone who is coming, we get ourselves ready.
The wise bridesmaids bring oil so that they are prepared for the wedding banquet. What would a wedding banquet be like? There would be a feast to celebrate; there would be music and dancing. So much laughter, so much joy--a celebration of love. This helps us understand why the wise bridesmaids would be so prepared! They want to go to the banquet! They know the bridegroom and want to celebrate his love with him.
When we remember that Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like this wedding banquet, we ask ourselves, who wouldn’t want to go to the banquet?!
We need to wonder what more Jesus means. We can ask, who could the bridegroom be like? Whose love is celebrated in the Kingdom of God?
And we also have to wonder who the bridesmaids could be like? Who are these people who are chosen to carry a light for the bridegroom?
When we are Baptized, we are given a light. A candle is lit for us from the great Paschal candle--the candle that reminds us of the Risen life of Jesus, the life that can never end. I wonder, then, if we can think of ourselves as the bridesmaids in the parable? Could we think of the oil lamp that each bridesmaid carries, as the light we receive in Baptism? Let's try that and see if the parable can show us more.
Are there times in our lives when our lamps are full of oil, and shining so brightly? We can think of times when our heart has felt so full of love, so full of joy, that it seemed as if it would burst! We can think of the people who were with us. I wonder what our shining light did for them. I wonder how they felt, and if they wanted to share that light with others...
I wonder, too, if there are other times, when our lamps are running out? Are we stuck in the dark, then? We remember whose light we have received--we know who the light belongs to--so we know where we can go to get more oil to make our light burn. We know how much Jesus loves us and wants to share his light with us.
the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet
We already thought: who wouldn't want to go with him into the wedding banquet? But when will this be? When is this time we are preparing for? People usually say, this is when we die, and perhaps they are right. But I wonder if there are times when we share in the banquet of the Kingdom of God right now? What do you think?