Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples:
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came and those who were ready
went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.
This Gospel would likely be inappropriate for casual believers. Jesus addresses this parable to his disciples. That’s an important context. If you are with the Lord in belief and practice, you should be awake and aware of your surroundings. If there is no doubt that the departed walked with God, and indeed, was as prepared as the wise virgins, then perhaps this parable would fit. That leaves aside the possibility that this parable might, by its preaching, be directed at mourners who, let’s say might be closer to the foolish end of the virgin scale than the wise.
Let me be clear about the appearance of mixed messages. I love this parable. Undoubtedly, some timid believers might need to hear the message. Is a funeral the best time to communicate that message en masse to a faith community? Most pastors seem to think not–I’ve never heard this Scripture proclaimed. What do you think?