This parable has so much to teach us…if we don’t ask for it to teach us too much. That is always the trouble with eschatology, end times things. We want to know more that is ours to know.
The biggest thing I think it means to tell us is to know the time. It is a parable about the Day of the Lord, the time of fulfillment. As such the most important things in that time are different that today. Today things like wise and foolish are not locked in. Today is a day of grace. Today is a day when the oil may be procured and the lamps prepared. For the night is coming when no work may be done. Sleep comes to all. And that is why Jesus tells us this parable. Not that we might know everything about That Day, but so that we may prepare for it.
…the foolish bridesmaids failed to understand that in a time when you are unsure of the time you are in it is all the more important to do what you have been taught to do. In the dark you must keep the lamps ready even if they are not able to overcome the darkness.
Some may think Jesus’s parable to be quite unfair to the bridesmaids who had not prepared ahead. Those who stress compassion as the hallmark of what makes Christians Christian cannot help but think that the bridesmaids with the oil should have shared with those without. But if they had shared their oil when the bridegroom had come, there would have been no light. Those who follow Jesus will be expected to lead lives that make it possible for the hungry to be fed and the stranger welcomed, but the practice of charity required a community prepared to welcome Christ as the bridegroom, for he alone makes possible hospitality to the stranger in a world where there will always be another stranger needing hospitality.