Daily Reflection April 14th, 2020
by Fr Stephen
APRIL 14, GREAT AND HOLY TUESDAY
Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
(Matthew 25:1-13, Holy Tuesday Liturgy)
Fr John’s Reflection
Each evening from Sunday through Tuesday of Holy Week, the Church celebrates “Bridegroom Matins.” The Troparion of the service begins “Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching…” The parable read this morning from the Gospel of St. Matthew is one of the inspirations for the theme of “Bridegroom.” It is important to reflect on a couple of aspects of this theme. The icon of “Bridegroom” is not what we might expect. It is the broken and bloody Christ, crowned with thorns. His betrothal was not the joyous celebration weddings bring to mind for us. Rather, His betrothal is one of suffering and death. But this suffering and death is an outpouring of love — he identifies Himself with us to point of becoming exactly what we have become: broken and dead. Only by this self-emptying love does He show Himself to be the ultimate and perfect Bridegroom, dying for His beloved.
But then we must reflect on the Bride. Who is this Bride? Us. The Church. We enter into the mystical union with the Bridegroom through His death and resurrection. Hence, this Holy Week is truly the bridal chamber. He calls His beloved (us) to enter into the bond of love and His embrace by walking hand in hand with Him. The destination is fearful and frightening. Only true love can take away the fear and the fright, much like a beloved married couple facing hand in hand the difficulties and traumas that life brings. We love Him by being ready to run into His embrace when He opens His arms. Hence, the parable of the Ten Virgins becomes important reading for us this week. We must not be like the foolish virgins, unprepared and unready to greet Him when He comes. Rather, we prepare ourselves with faith, love, purity of life, and self-denial so that when midnight comes (and we “know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming”), we might be found waiting in breathless, loving anticipation to greet our Beloved.
This parable speaks of the end of time and the Second Coming of Christ, but it also speaks of our own individual deaths. The Resurrection MUST be preceded by Golgotha. But likewise, Golgotha ALWAYS ends in the empty tomb! We do not know when that moment might come. We are not even guaranteed tomorrow. But when that moment comes, we will find the Bridegroom ready and waiting for His Bride. Will He find us ready? Glory to God!
Spend the rest of this week following the services as best you can, and read the prescribed readings at oca.org. For the services we cannot have at St. Paul’s, you can see the services of Metropolitan Tikhon at St. Tikhon’s Monastery (live or at your convenience) at:
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023