Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Leaning Into Lent: Day 36—Tuesday in Holy Week Oil Check

Patrick Henry Reardon, in his St James Devotional Guide notes for the day, observes that
In the lectionary tradition of Eastern Christians, the evening services for Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week are called the Bridegroom Service, its name being derived from the following reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. 
The reading to which he refers is The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25.11-13) in which the behaviour of the wise and foolish ones are compared. The foolish young women took no extra oil for their lamps with them when they went out to meet the Bridegroom. The wise ones did. The Bridegroom was delayed and all the young women, foolish and wise, became drowsy and slept. When he finally did arrive, the foolish young women were dismayed to find their lamps were going out. Because they then had to go to buy oil they missed being admitted to the marriage feast.

We usually hear this passage during Advent when the call is to be ready, lamps full, for Jesus’ return. It works for Lent and Holy Week, too.
The Gethsemane Window in St Barnabas, Medicine Hat

Although drowsiness and sleep doesn’t appear to be a problem for Jesus in the story about the young women, it will be later during his desperate prayer at Gethsemane. “So, could not watch with me one hour?” he said to Peter. Ouch!
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.  (Mt 26.40-41)
The disciplined self examination, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and reading and meditating on the Word of God of a Holy Lent keeps me awake, temptation resistant, lamp full of oil, and flesh strengthened. It just works.