Msgr Charles Pope has a great homily about the ten virgins from last Sunday’s Gospel parable. I love it, especially this part:
II. Prepare Personally – The text says, The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise ones replied, “No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.”
At first the answer of the wise virgins surprises us. Shouldn’t they share? Isn’t that what we would expect Jesus to say?
But there are some things you can’t lend and some things you can’t borrow. You can’t borrow someone else’s relationship with God. You can’t borrow holiness, or mercy, or love, or wisdom. You can’t borrow someone else’s prayer life. You have to have your own.
As a priest, I get lots of requests, sometimes for money, sometimes to use the Church for a funeral. I often inquire, “Was the deceased a parishioner here?” So often the answer is, “Well, no, but his grandmother was,” or “his second cousin used to be.” Now I’ll celebrate the funeral Mass, no matter, but the answer is “No, he wasn’t.” The fact that his Grandmother or his second cousin attended Mass here has nothing to do with it. None of that will profit him before God; none of that adds even a drop of oil to his lamp. You can’t borrow your grandmother’s holiness; you have to have your own.
Hence we must personally prepare to meet God. We must come to know Him and to love Him. We must be open to receiving the gifts He offers: prayer, Scripture, the liturgy, the sacraments, the moral life, a new mind and heart.
What about us? Do we have our own oil, or are we just talking about what a great person our grandmother was? An old gospel hymn says, “Yes, I know Jesus for myself.” Do we? Another old gospel hymn says, “My mother taught me how to pray. So if I die and my soul be lost, it’s nobody’s fault but mine.”
The second principle of proper preparation is to prepare personally.