It’s true that, in some cultures at least, all this is preceded by Halloween, during which skeletons and open graves and ghosts abound. If anything, this should remind us of the reality of death. We cannot, and there would be no point in running away from it. But for us Christians death is not the end of the story. All Saints’ Day reminds us that there is much more after death. The moment of death is the moment when we meet our God for the last time, which lasts for eternity. Jesus himself went through the experience of death, and it was not an easy moment – neither for him nor for his loved ones. But he came out of the tomb victorious, and this is the basis of our whole faith. St Paul reminds us in one of his letters that if Christ did not come out of the dead, our faith would have been in vain. In today’s second reading he expresses this same thought in a very beautiful way: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”
The moment of death will be the last time when we meet our God, but definitely not the first time. God visits us in different ways throughout our lives, and we have to be on the alert not to miss those encounters. In particular, God meets us in people around us. “Whatever you do to anyone of these little ones, you are doing it to me,” Jesus once said. And how could we forget that beautiful passage from Matthew’s gospel which gives a context to this phrase, when Jesus explains to us how we shall be judged? “I was hungry”, “I was thirsty”, “I was naked”, so on and so forth.
Today’s parable comes slightly before this passage in the same chapter of the gospel. Half of the bridesmaids were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom, while the other half were not. The latter group, unfortunately, missed out on enjoying the banquet, simply because they were not prepared.
Let us make sure that we are prepared to recognize the “groom” when he comes to visit us in the face of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are needy. This is the oil we carry with us so that we can enter the final banquet and meet him face to face, for which we are all invited.