Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet 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. 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. 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.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Reflection Jesus wants us to understand what the kingdom of heaven is like. Apparently his words are not crystal clear as for two thousand years theologians have never agreed regarding the definition of the kingdom of heaven; from the early church expectation that the kingdom would manifest any day to the purely eschatological or wait until the apocalyptic end of time theory, some have identified the kingdom with the visible church and others have insisted it is purely in the realm of grace. Some claim the kingdom is the ideal society characterized by freedom, justice and truth and, in the face of conflict, war and economic crisis others maintain the kingdom is on hold for a happily ever after death experience.
I wonder if the kingdom of heaven is a state of consciousness paired with readiness to act? Jesus’ first reference to the kingdom of heaven is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mat 3.2) Repent means turn around, change our mind and change the way we live to reveal the truth that the kingdom of heaven is actually here, right now, “at hand.” When we accept Jesus’ statement as true, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” we are awakened to see what we could not see before, the eyes of our hearts are opened and hopefully we are compelled to act accordingly.
The kingdom of heaven has always been “at hand,” hiding in plain sight. It is not something outside ourselves that we can find, purchase or borrow from others. It is not delayed payment for a life of obedience. The kingdom of heaven is the light that shines from the center of each one of us. As we turn around and direct our attention inward the light of our self awareness and our God awareness grows, each igniting the other. Which brings us to the issue of lamp oil.
Many of us really do not like the part of Jesus parable where “the foolish (bridesmaids) said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No!” We recoil, accuse Jesus of encouraging self-interest and greed. But what if Jesus is using lamp oil as a metaphor for human consciousness?
Each one of us is responsible for turning around (repenting), looking inside and cultivating our own consciousness. We cannot borrow or draw upon someone else’s consciousness. Each of us must listen to Jesus’ teaching, choose to believe it, allow it to transform our minds and behavior, and in so doing the oil for our lamps, our consciousness, becomes a deep reservoir from which we draw light even in the midst of our darkest night.
The kingdom of heaven is fulfilled when each us remembers that we do not take a single breath but that God is drawing that breath through us, that we live every minute of every day as the revelation of God with us. When our oil lamps are full all people see God’s light glowing through us. They see it as we put our faith in God's generosity rather than our own. They see it in our calm assurance that all is well regardless of the fickle tides of time or circumstance. They see it as we stretch to give away our blessings in thanksgiving to God from whom all blessings come. We are the kingdom of heaven, either bridesmaids in waiting or bridesmaids in fact.
If you found this post meaningful please share by clicking on icons below. Thank you.