The Bridegroom arrives unexpectedly, at midnight to be precise, at the moment when the darkness is thickest and those awaiting him are plunged into unconsciousness. “There was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’” Everyone is caught off guard; everyone will now be seen by the Bridegroom exactly as he or she is in reality, with unkempt hair and bleary eyes and a sleep-sodden brain. No time now for last-minute cosmetic touch-ups before the mirror. No time now to prepare apologies and explanations. At long last, he has truly arrived and is standing here before me, bigger than life. What have I to offer him? What I do not already have with me, what I have not already become—that I surely cannot now magically manufacture or borrow from another! Christ wants me and not a false, borrowed identity.
“There was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’” The crucial turning-point of the parable has arrived, the time of ultimate revelation and judgment, the moment of inescapable truth. The oil of the parable that is now required represents the unique thing, the distinctive personhood and non-interchangeable identity each one of us has to offer the Bridegroom...
My selfless love for other human beings for the sake of Christ, my explicit awareness that the love with which I love is but the momentary location in myself of the universally circulating Love of God, which I choose to make my own by giving it free passage through my being: this is the divinely acquired, virginal habit of being which the Lord Jesus calls purity of heart and which he himself perfectly embodies. It is the quality of soul and body that enables a person “to see God” in Jesus, to encounter the long-yearned-for Bridegroom face to face, and so to receive from his glance the fruit-bearing rays of his divinity, as the apostles did at the Transfiguration.
Madonna of the Clouds, Donatello, about 1425–35, marble, 13 1/16 x 12 5/8 in., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Reflection by Father Simeon.