Suffering is quite naturally the least appealing part of human experience. Suffering isn’t just pain, it isn’t just a physical experience, it isn’t just sadness. Suffering applies to every way we are deprived of what is good. Sin is suffering because by choosing what seems to be good over what is really good, we deprive ourselves. Jesus takes all forms of human suffering upon Himself so that we may never find ourselves alone when we suffer. Jesus even takes upon Himself the suffering due to sin – though He Himself never sinned. He allowed Himself to be condemned and punished as a criminal, as a sacrifice – the Innocent One – so that we sinners might find refuge in Him. The One who was without sin became sin so that He might destroy it once and for all in His flesh. His body, broken on the Cross, is the image of our broken soul – broken by sin and suffering. The divinity of Christ – a sure support and powerful force of healing – carries the brokenness and weakness of Christ’s flesh all the way through His death to the Resurrection.
Whenever we hear two groups being compared in the Gospels by Jesus, we know that He is inviting us to make a discernment for our own lives. We could be tempted to use the comparison to judge or condemn others, but if we interpret it in that way we only condemn ourselves. Ten virgins waiting for Christ. Ten who have consecrated themselves, who have renounced the life of indulgence in the pleasures of the flesh. Jesus is telling us that even among those who have pledged fidelity and taken measures to conform their lives to the coming Kingdom, half are wise and half are foolish. Wisdom for the Christian, as we saw in the first reading from St. Paul, is the Cross: precisely the opposite of what the world considers intelligent. Foolishness has to do, according to the Gospel, with not having any oil for the lamp. How can a lamp burn brightly without any oil? Where did the wise virgins get their oil?