“The maidens who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.”

Matthew 25:10

Friday, 13 November 2020

Matthew 25:1-13

Demands are made on us every day. We are expected to perform at work, be present to a spouse, care for children and respond to friends. More and more people are heading for burnout than ever before. What can the parable of the ten maidens teach us about coping with our daily lives?

A theme at the heart of this parable is learning to make good decisions and pace oneself. Five maidens did and five maidens did not do this. We want to make good decisions so that we can take the necessary care of ourselves and those around us. In other words, we need to calculate our energy levels and use our energy as best we can in the areas of our lives that count most.

In Christian theology we call this “discernment”. St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, wrote a lot about discernment – much more than can be explained here! But there are four strategies which might be useful if you feel that you need to make good decisions to manage your energy levels.

First, line up the pros and cons. Make a list of all the advantages and disadvantages of doing X and not Y. Sometimes when we write things down, we may see something that was not apparent before.

Second, ‘try it on for size’. Imagine that you have already made a decision. Go through a few days living with your ‘decision’. Notice how you react emotionally to this imaginary decision. How does it make you feel to have made this decision? You could do this exercise with both options that lie before you.

Third, ask yourself how you would counsel someone else in your position. Pretend that someone brings what you are considering to you for advice. What advice would you offer? What questions would you ask them? Apply your counsellor’s wisdom to yourself.

Finally, pretend that you are nearing the end of your life. Consider your whole life – what you did and why. What you are grateful for and what do you regret. In light of this long view, how do you see the current decision that you are trying to make?

Remember, all decisions have consequences, the ten maidens found this out!

Do you need to manage your time and energy better? What decisions might you need to be making at this time? What will the consequences of this decision be?

Living God,

Help me to use my energy as best I can to live and love fully. Through the power of your grace, gift me with discernment so that I can make good decisions which have life-giving consequences.


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
See more from Russell Pollitt SJ
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