'Are you ready' is the phrase we hear daily from time to time, from early in the morning to late at night. Children hear this from their parents and friends and teachers. We adults know that some require a considerable amount of times to prepare for a journey while others are quite moderate and happy those are endowed with a gift of being patient.
Before any big or small journey we need to prepare ourselves for a trip. People who travel a lot often travel light. They know exactly what need to carry and only pack what is essential. They would not burden themselves with any luxuries but would wisely predict and prepare for any unexpected event that potentially would be foreseeable to happen. In case an unexpected event was going to happen they would not panic but stayed calm because they were ready to deal with the problem.
The parable of the ten bride mates seems to suggest that there are two groups of people: One would well prepare for plan A and would also have an alternative plan B for the journey in case of an unexpected event happening; the other group would prepare just for the occasion without worrying about anything else. To be more specific, one group was taking their lamps and having extra oil with them while the other was taking their lamps without worrying about extra oil. The ones who took extra oil for the journey would have predicted that it was possible for the delay coming of the bridegroom and if that was the case they would not panic because the extra oil would help them to fill in any time needed. They were correct, the bridegroom was late coming and the lamps of the group who didn't bring any extra oil ran out and asked for help. The other community's members couldn't help. How could they refuse to help in an emergency situation like this in the middle of the night? It is not about a selfishness behaviour on the part of the ones who carried extra oil. There are many factors involved, namely time factor and the instruments needed to transfer oil from the cast to the lamps and the risk of being late to enter the wedding hall. In reality there are countless occasions we can't share what we have in excess. We would love to share but we can not. Parent can teach their children about wisdom but can't share it. They can teach children about knowledge but can't share it. They can share wealth, not health. We feel the pain of others but can't share it. We can mourn with friends but can't share the loss. We can tell people how to survive but can't live for them. We can teach about faith but can't share it. The Gospel reading is all about preparedness and readiness and not much about sharing. Preparedness and readiness about having faith in Jesus is something, no one can help, but one needs to commit oneself in responding to the call of the Gospel. The community of faith can assist a person by providing support and encouragement but the personal conviction must come from the heart of that person and he alone before God. For various reasons people can delay in responding to God's call but there is a time limit and we don't know when it is due. The parable confirms that when the wedding hall door has closed then there is no more entry. Waiting for the last minute to enter is a risky business and it is a dangerous approach.