“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, Lord! Let us in!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’ Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:1–13)
This is a quite well-known parable in the Gospel of Mathew. This passage comes in the context of eschatological teachings (teachings about the last days) in the Gospel of Mathew. The most common interpretation is given in relation to the last judgment. In the context of speaking about fraternity/ solidarity/ sharing, a common question is, “why the wise virgins were not ready to share with the foolish virgins”. It has a reasonable response when we think that parable is connected to the last judgment.
I happened to hear another interesting comment (at least it was new for me). Are there things that I can’t share with others? I don’t deny that the last judgment is one of them. But can we think beyond and get answers that are more connected to our daily life?
- My body, my identity, and my uniqueness. Though I can try to change or transform myself, I can’t really share it with others. (Exceptions are there in the case of martyrs/activists/care-takers or in a mother-children relationship).
- My experiences. One of the many examples of experiences is related to God-experience. When Christianity faces atheism and agnosticism today, one of the main reasons is the lack of a God-experience. The experience of others can be a help, but that is not enough. I need my own experience to believe. The church has failed (a lot of times) in this process. There are other reasons for atheism etc and I am not discussing them here.
- My dignity. For a black person, or a person belonging to the so-called lower caste, or a suppressed minority, the dignity they experience is not the same as the dignity of others. It may be due to the history of bitter experiences. (In this context, it is interesting to see why empowerment actions like reservation are important too…).
There are many things that can’t be transferred or shared. Each one of us needs to experience it on an individual level. But the people in power and responsibility can always work to create circumstances that can help others (especially those far away from the power) to have life-enhancing personal experiences instead of oppressive ones.