The audience for Matthew’s gospel also struggles with waiting. Written between 50-60 years after Jesus death and resurrection the readers of this Gospel were wondering if Jesus was ever going to return. The early followers of Jesus expected his return very soon. A generation later, Matthew’s community is still waiting. Would the end times, the day of the Lord would ever arrive?
This week’s Gospel from Matthew 25: 1-13 is often called the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. You may remember the bridesmaids all have oil lamps but only five bring extra oil. When the groom (Jesus) is delayed the wise bridesmaids are prepared, but the other five leave to find more oil. Verse 13 implores us “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Two thousand years later, we are still waiting. Many people have given up or no longer think Jesus is relevant. Maybe we have lost our hope. Maybe we are no longer confident that God’s presence matters, that Jesus brings life and light.
I think our questions, doubts, fear, and longings put us right in this parable along with the bridesmaids. How long? Will the world ever reflect God’s justice and peace as promised– “they will hunger and thirst no more” Rev 7: 16? Will neighbors ever rejoice and sing together—“great multitudes from every tribe, people, and language” as shared in Rev 7: 10? Will pain and suffering ever pass away—“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” Rev 7: 17?
Maybe in our impatient world of instant gratification, the Parable of the Delayed Groom is just what we need to hear. Waiting is to be expected. We may see glimpses of God’s justice and peace here and there. But we long for the day when it will be fully experienced. Come Lord Jesus come!