"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish and five wise. But the five foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with the lamps. And the bridegroom tarrying, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: 'Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye forth to meet him.' Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise: 'Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.' The wise answered, saying: 'Lest perhaps there be not enough for us and for you, go ye rather to them that sell and buy for yourselves.' Now whilst they went to buy the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage. And the door was shut. But at last came also the other virgins, saying: 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he answering said: 'Amen I say to you, I know you not.' Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour."
THE NECESSITY OF GOOD WORKS: The ten virgins represent the faithful in general. The bridegroom is our Lord: the marriage-feast is everlasting happiness: the arrival of the bridegroom signifies the judgment, both the particular judgment after death, and the general judgment at the end of time. It is the duty of all the faithful to be ever expecting the arrival of the Divine Bridegroom, who will come to take his own servants to the heavenly banquet. We must be ready to go with him at any time or moment. The wise virgins are those Christians who stand ready, holding not only the lamp of faith, but also the oil of good works in their hands. The foolish virgins are those bad Christians who have indeed the lamp of faith, but to whom is lacking the oil of active love, and whose faith is therefore dead. They pass their lives carelessly, taking no thought of that eternally decisive moment which is before us all. At midnight, when none of the virgins were expecting him, the bridegroom came! In other words, death took them unawares. Wise or good Christians, even though death may take them by surprise, are always ready to meet the Lord, and enter into eternity; for they have not only kept the faith, but also gained merit. Foolish, careless Christians do not live in accordance with their faith, but put off their conversion till the hour of death. Death comes on them unawares, and then they find out with terror that their faith is dead, and that there is lacking to them the oil of good works. The merits of their fellow-Christians can avail them nothing, and they have no time to gain merits of their own by the performance of good works. For them, indeed, the night has come "when no man can work!" (John 9:4). They may wail and cry out "Lord! Lord!" but they will find themselves shut out from heaven, for our Lord Jesus has said: "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
[From 'A Practical Commentary on Holy Scripture' by Bishop Knecht, D.D.]
(1899 Douay-Rheims Bible)