This parable puzzled me for many years. I had always thought, why don’t they share the oil? But the description of the virgins uses the terms wise and foolish virgins. Isn’t true wisdom a gift of the Holy Spirit given to a person over a period of time, usually over a long period of time? So looking at the parable in relation to the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, it helps one to understand the meaning of the parable.
“Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her and found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire.” These words seem to hold the secret of wisdom: loving, seeking, and desiring! It does not seem to be given to everyone and that is why I call it a gift.
Since wisdom is a spiritual gift of a life-long search, it cannot be shared like oil. By its nature, it leads a person to the Source of all wisdom, the Bridegroom. This solves the dilemma: the wise virgins were ready while the foolish virgins were empty and awaiting the groom with nothing. May our loving, seeking, and desiring the Bridegroom bring us daily closer to Him! My prayer for all of you!
By Sr. Mary Vivette, SND.