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Parable of the Ten Maidens – Matthew 25: 1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  For 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, they all slumbered and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him.’  Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.  Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Everything and everyone in the world around us wants to be known, recognized, acknowledged.  As long as that is not the case we stand before a closed door and before riddles.  Now, the greater part of our life consists of riddles.  We should not have the illusion that those can all be solved.  But what we can do is, step by step, conscious of our ignorance, unveil the riddles—knowing that only when we have died, will we stand face to face.  That modesty has an ancient name: learned ignorance, docta ignorantia.

This is depressing for most people, and they give up the search—See?  We’ll never know it; all the effort is in vain.  But like Sleeping Beauty the world around us is waiting to be awakened: known, recognized, acknowledged.  With every attempt in that direction, no matter how humble, we find a little bit of our destination, both we and the world around us.  The poet expressed it in the words: “A song is sleeping in all things, which are dreaming on and on, and the world begins to sing, when you only find the magic word.”*

Woe to the one who like a sleepwalker wanders through the world all his life without making any effort to get to know anything or anyone.  When such a person comes to the end of a senseless life, the door closes and the painful words resound: I do not know you.

The Son of Man, who wants to connect as a bridegroom with every single one of us, goes from human being to human being, seeking light, spiritual light on earth.  And even if he finds but a tiny spark of light, sooner or later the door will open and He invites us to the marriage of heaven and earth.

Then we will wholly know, as we are known.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, December 12, 2021

*Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen
Die da träumen fort und fort
Und die Welt fängt an zu singen
Triffst du nur das Zauberwort.
–Joseph von Eichendorff

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