In the parable of The Ten Virgins, (Matt 25:1-13) five being wise and five foolish, Jesus is teaching us that it takes vigilance to enter Heaven. Although all these bridesmaids fell asleep waiting, five of them wisely made provisions; they carried flasks of extra oil for their lamps to guarantee a bright flame for welcoming the bridegroom.
The composition of the painting is in the shape of a lamp and the silhouetted figure in its flame is that of Jesus returning suddenly.
There is rage, regret, shock, and pleading in the unprepared virgins while one of them is leaving the scene, on the advice of a wise virgin, in order to fetch more oil for her dying flame.
Why would the wise virgin refuse to share her oil? And what is this oil? The oil is grace we receive in the sacraments, our own experience in encountering Christ, and our good deeds in response. All these cannot be handed over to another. We cannot take an actual grace God gives us and pass it on to someone else. This precious oil is ours. Indeed, our hearts are like flasks and the Holy Spirit Himself fills them.
When the dramatic time of Jesus‘ return comes, will He find us at peace in preparation or frantic in despair? Will we be like the spiritually mature, the innocent, the joyously calm, the humbly hidden or the counseling virgin? If not, let us make haste like one running out for oil while there is still time — for Jesus is at the gate.