By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis has called on faithful to nourish the ‘oil of the soul’ daily, in order to be prepared for the Lord and for others.
He did so during his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square at noon, as he reflected on today’s Gospel reading according to St. Matthew, which centers on the parable of the ten virgins called to go out to meet the bridegroom.
The reading, the Pope said, offers us a parable regarding the meaning of life of each person.
Ten virgins and their lamps
In the passage of the ten virgins awaiting a bridegroom, five brought enough oil for their lamps for the wait, while the oil of the other five runs out. The five virgins who are prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival are rewarded.
While acknowledging that all those bridesmaids are there to welcome the bridegroom, as they are “there with their lamps, waiting,” the Pope said the difference between the wise and the foolish ones is tied to “preparation.”
The wise ones, the Holy Father observed, “took flasks of oil with their lamps,” that is to say “the unseen element that generates the light.” However, the foolish ones, on the other hand, did not.
“Here is the difference: the oil,” the Pope stressed, adding, “And what is the characteristic of the oil? That it cannot be seen: it is inside the lamps, it is not conspicuous, but without it the lamps give no light.”
Stewardship of inner life
The Pope urged faithful to see the relevance of this parable in their own lives.
“Let us look at ourselves, and we will see that our life runs the same risk,” he noted, recognizing that often we are concerned about our appearance, taking good care of one’s image, and making a good impression in front of others.
“But Jesus says,” he insisted, “that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but is more important, caring for the heart.”
“Jesus says that the wisdom of life lies elsewhere: in taking care of what cannot be seen, but which is more important, taking care of the heart.”
The Pope called this wisdom, the “stewardship of the inner life,” which knows how to stop and listen to one’s heart, to keep watch over one’s own thoughts and feelings, and make room for silence and listening.
Nourish attentively ‘oil of the soul’
Moreover, he continued, it is capable of “giving up some of the time passed in front of the telephone screen” to “look at the light in the eyes of others, in one’s own heart, in God’s gaze upon us.”
For everyone, the Pope said, it requires “not falling into the trap of activism,” but “devoting time to the Lord, to listening to His Word.”
The Gospel, the Pope highlighted, warns us against neglecting the “oil of inner life,” or the “oil of the soul,” underscoring how important it is to prepare it.
A little time to prepare each day
The inner life, the Pope said, cannot be improvised, but requires constancy, and a little preparation each day.
For this reason, the Pope asked the faithful to ask themselves how they are “preparing.”
“So, we can ask ourselves: what am I preparing at this moment in life? Perhaps I am trying to put aside some savings, I am thinking about a house or a new car, concrete plans… They are good things. However, the Pope highlighted, “am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life?”
“But am I also thinking about dedicating time to the care of the heart, to prayer, to service to others, to the Lord who is the destination of life?”
With this in mind, the Holy Father said we each must examine the state of the “oil” of our souls, asking, “Do I nourish it and keep it well?”
Pope Francis concluded by praying that Mary, Our Lady, help us to cherish the oil of inner life.