For those who live in earthquake country, the thought of “the big one” cannot consume our lives lest we live in constant fear. Similarly, I doubt today’s Gospel calls us to hypervigilance, leaving no room for peace, for wise and foolish virgins alike are found asleep at the bridegroom’s arrival. What, then, does it mean to stay awake with enough oil to light the bridegroom’s return?
Perhaps we are to embrace the long delay of God’s reign with unrelenting joy and hope instead of growing fear, despair, or indifference. I think of our Black sisters and brothers who for centuries have endured ongoing systemic injustice and still are some of our greatest witnesses to hope.
In their long vigil for true equality, they have experienced earth-shaking public racial terror and violence and the daily tremors of discrimination that extinguish joy’s light. Yet their perseverance and persistence shine with abiding trust in God.
In his speech “Remaining Awake through a Great Revolution,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said, “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” No matter how long we must wait for the fullness of God’s reign, let us keep our lamps filled with the oil of gladness, trusting in the slow work of the Spirit, and joyful in Christ who is surely coming.