The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Text: Matthew 25:1-13

Reflection and Question: This story is read every Advent as the church awaits the coming of the baby Jesus. It advises being ready no matter how long the wait. The standard translation of the Greek word here is “bridesmaids” even though the literal English meaning is “virgins.” Recently a friend brought to my attention that these girls were not bridesmaids at all, but potential brides. As no bride is mentioned, it fits that the groom was coming to take a wife from the ten possibilities. That certainly fits ancient understanding of marriage and ratchets up the gain for the ones who were ready, despite the long wait. Does seeing the virgins as potential brides change your reading of this story?

Prayer: Wake, awake, for night is flying; the watchmen on the heights are crying:
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices and at the thrilling cry rejoices:
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
The Bridegroom comes, awake! Your lamps with gladness take: Alleluia!
And for his marriage feast prepare, for ye must go and meet him there.

This meditation is based on the Daily Lectionary Year 2 from the Book of Common Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1993).