“Five of them were foolish and five were wise.”

Matthew 25:2

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Matthew 25:1-13

One reaction we might have to this parable is to think that the foolish maidens deserved what they got and the wise were rewarded for their prowess. The extremes we come across in the Scriptures make a point. When we look at them closely, we see things we might not have if we simply glance over the text.

The delayed arrival of the bridegroom and the sleep that takes possession of the maidens is not the result of negligence on their part. Life happens. The difference is that five of them didn’t think of this possibility and five did.

If we are honest about it, none of us are completely foolish and none of us entirely wise. There are possibilities that we too don’t think about.

Each of us has aspects of foolishness and wisdom within us, depending on what life throws at us. We might sit back and muse on our experiences thinking “If only I had thought of Y or done X… how foolish I was!” Other times we look at our lives and think “I am glad that I had the foresight to do what I did…” 

In as much as this parable teaches us the valuable lesson of being ready for the Lord’s return, of being watchful and prepared, it also reminds us that we hold the tension of the foolish and wise within us.

Many Christians grow up to think that the world is black and white. We indeed need value formation. But the lived reality of life teaches us too that not everything is black and white and there is, often, grey in our lives too.

The parable of the ten maidens invites us to become aware of the foolish within us. The foolish could be the part of us that refuses to offer forgiveness, that will not let go of a past negative experience which means we live with bitterness in our hearts; our arrogance, inflated egos or desire for material things.

On the other hand, the parable also invites us to celebrate the wisdom within us. The wisdom that helps us recognize what needs transformation, what needs God, or what we should let go of so that we can live more freely and fully. The wisdom within opens our eyes to see the potential God has gifted us with. 

We are both wise and foolish. Take time today to get in touch with your own wisdom. What is the God-given wisdom within you saying to your heart?

God of the foolish and wise,

Thank you for the wisdom you have planted within me that calls me to see things anew and to transformation. Help me to follow the voice of that wisdom, knowing that you speak to me through the foolish and the wise within my own heart.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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