Support the Café

Search our Site

Foolish Bridesmaids and Foolish Groom

Foolish Bridesmaids and Foolish Groom

by the Rev. Mary Lessman

Mt 25:1-13

Ten bridesmaids – five wise and five foolish – await the arrival of the bridegroom.  The bridesmaids fall asleep waiting.  When the bridegroom’s imminent arrival is announced, the five foolish bridesmaids, who are low on oil, try and borrow some from the wise bridesmaids.  They say, ‘no can do,’ and the foolish scurry off to get more oil.  By the time they return, the bridegroom has arrived, everyone has gone into the feast, and the door is shut.  They call out to the bridegroom through the door but he refuses to let them in, insisting that he doesn’t know them.

I really dislike this parable.  I don’t think any of these folks come off looking good.  The bridegroom has caused the crisis by being late.  And when he finally gets there and starts the party, he wants to judge the foolish bridesmaids for being late?  And look at the ‘wise’ bridesmaids.  Yes, they were prepared – they had plenty of oil.  But they fell asleep waiting just like the other bridesmaids.  And how selfish and snarky not to share some of their oil with the other ladies?  You can almost hear them saying, “See, this is what happens when you don’t prepare properly.  We’re always the ones who have to bail out people like you.  Well, not this time.  What goes around comes around.  Go get your own oil.”  And I’m not happy with the ‘foolish’ bridesmaids, either.  Maybe they’re the type that assume someone else is always going to pick up their slack or bail them out.  Maybe they’ve skated through life on their charm or their looks and they would benefit from having to cope with the consequences of their actions…or inaction.  Yeah…I don’t like any of them.

Here’s my redeemed version of the parable.  The wise bridesmaids share their oil with the foolish bridesmaids because they know on any given day they could find themselves in the other group and it would be nice to know that someone might be gracious enough to help them out.  Then none of them had enough oil to keep the lamps going long enough, but they were all present when the bridegroom arrived.  And it didn’t matter once they got into the wedding feast because there was plenty of light for all.

This better reflects the teaching Matthew gives us just a few verses later.  Here we’re told, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or sick or in prison – or without oil – and took care of you?”  And Jesus answers, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these – or a foolish bridesmaid – you did it to me.”  This is what gets you into the wedding feast.

 

The Rev. Mary Lessmann is Associate for Spiritual Growth at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas.  Mary is an Enneagram specialist, a workshop presenter, and a leader of pilgrimages.  When not in Dallas, Mary and her husband, Russ, can be found exploring a new locale or hiking a mountain.

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ann Prentice, OSH

THANK YOU, MARY LESSMANN! This “stinking” parable has distressed me every time I’ve heard it, which, at age 81, is lots of times! I know myself to be one who is usually a bit late, and sometimes unprepared–AND–I also know myself to be one who would share if someone didn’t have what was needed and I did. I appreciate your “redeemed” version–it sounds a lot more like what Jesus asks of us, than does the one we’ve all grown up with!

Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café