Be well prepared
Vs 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
The present day Lady with the Lamp is considered to be none other than The Honorable Health Minister of Kerala State, Shrimathi Shailaja Teacher. She is very successful in encountering the Corona Virus that is plaguing her state. The country of South Korea is also credited with success in handling the pandemic COVID-19. How come the state of Kerala is so successful? They all learned their lessons the hard way. Kerala had a history of fighting the diseases like: Dengue fever, chikunguniya, H1N1, Nipah virus etc. They also had the terrible flood, which has never happened to that intensity. The lessons learned from those incidents and the preventive measures they took made them well prepared to meet the challenges of COVID-19. What happened in other places during this pandemic? It is reported that whistle blowers who warned about a mysterious pneumonia like virus were arrested and jailed, Reporters were deported, and there was scarcity of supplies like face masks, gowns, virus tests, test equipments, hospital beds, and life supporting ventilators. A state has been reached where none of the essential supplies are available in the market place. It is further reported that in certain countries hospitals are running at 200% capacity, dead bodies are getting accumulated, relatives cannot even say good bye to their loved ones, immigrants who got inflicted did not seek medical help, and there was a toll on hospital staff.
Jesus used many parables to teach his people about the Kingdom of God and the Son of Man. He taught the need to be “well prepared” at all times. He used the parable of the wise and foolish virgins for this lesson. He compares the coming of the Son of Man to the arrival of a bridegroom to his own wedding. In North India the arrival of a bridegroom with his wedding party is called a “BAARAATH”. The Baaraath normally arrives during the night. The whole house hold of the bride will come out to welcome the bridegroom and his party. Young maidens will have lamps in their hands, and they use the lamps in circles to bless the bridegroom. The lamps are of olden times, where one end of the wick is allowed to immerse in oil (olive, coconut etc.) and the other end is lighted with a flame. Similar customs would have been prevalent in Jesus’ time also.
In the parable of the Virgins, we read that the wise ones carried extra oil in another container, and the foolish ones did not. While the bridegroom tarried all slumbered and slept. When it was announced that the bridegroom has arrived, they all lighted their lamps. The foolish virgin’s lamp went out. They have no way other than go to the merchant to buy more oil. The wise ones used their reserve and kept their lamp going. They could welcome the bridegroom and attend the wedding. The foolish ones wasted their time. They could neither participate in the moment of joy nor attend the wedding.
In the believers life same story happens. Matthew, Chapter 25, Word 31 reads “when the son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angles with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory”. Like the wise virgins, those who are well prepared will participate in the joyful events, and others will be left out. How will a believer be well prepared? What is the oil that one has to keep in reserve? The answer to the first question is given in words 34-40 of Matthew chapter 25. The oil in the lamp and the container stands for the word of God. It is written” Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path”.
Merciful father we humbly seek Your mercy at this moment of pandemic, where millions of people are at peril. Some of us were not well prepared to meet the challenges ahead of us, especially for Your second coming. We are still in sleep and slumber. Awake us and give the wisdom as given to the virgins who welcomed the bridegroom. Please heal our nations. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The son of Man tarries, but we should be prepared to receive him.
Joseph Kurian Ph. D, Immanuel Mar Thoma Church, Virginia, USA
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church