Origen (182-253/4): They that believe rightly, and live righteously, are likened to the five wise; they that profess the faith of Jesus, but prepare themselves not by good works to salvation, are likened to the five foolish.
St. Jerome (340/2-420): For there are five senses which hasten towards heavenly things, and seek after things above. Of sight, hearing, and touch, it is specially said, “That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled.” (1 John 1:1) Of taste, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps 34:8) Of smell, “Because of the savour of thy good ointments.” (Song of Songs 1:3) There are also other five senses which gape after earthly husks.
St. Augustine (354-430): Or, The “oil” denotes joy, according to that, “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness” (Ps 45:7). He then whose joy springs not from this that he is inwardly pleasing to God, has no oil with him; for they have no gladness in their continent lives, save in the praises of men. “But the wise took oil with their lamps,” that is, the gladness of good works, “in their vessels,” that is, they stored it in their heart and conscience, as the Apostle speaks, “Let every man prove himself, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another” (Gal 6:4).
St. Jerome (340/2-420): Suddenly thus, as on a stormy night, and when all think themselves secure, at the hour when sleep is the deepest, the coming of Christ shall be proclaimed by the shout of Angels, and the trumpets of the Powers that go before Him. This is meant when it says, “Lo, the bridegroom comes, go out to meet him.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-614): The lamps of the foolish virgins go out, because the works which appeared outwardly to men to be bright, are dimmed within at the coming of the Judge. That they then beg oil of the wise virgins, what is it but that at the coming of the Judge, when they find themselves empty within, they seek for witness from without?
St. Jerome (340/2-420): These wise virgins do not refuse to share out of covetousness, but out of fear. Wherefore, each man shall receive the recompense of his own works, and the virtues of one cannot atone for the vices of another in the day of judgment. Their worthy confession calling Him, “Lord, Lord,” is a mark of faith. But what avails it to confess with the mouth Him whom you deny with your works?
(Photo: PilgrimagemedievalIreland.com The Five Wise Virgins, St. Finnbarr’s Cathedral, Cork.)