August 26th, 2021

The Gospel according to Matthew (24:42-51)

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to stay awake in body, mind, and spirit so we may receive the message you intend to give us today in this gospel and in how we may apply it in our lives.

Encountering Christ: Have you ever been so tired you wanted to lie down and go to sleep for 24 hours.  Do you remember a time you existed with minimal sleep for extended periods where when you did get some sleep you did not feel normal. I can remember many late nights holding our children as babies, bloodshot eyes, exhausted wondering how in the world I could keep this pace up let alone how I would be able to function at work or otherwise.  Calgon, take me away!

In today’s Gospel we hear the reminder that we know not the day nor the hour when we will sit before our heavenly Father and face the reality of how we lived our lives.  Although this can be an ominous thought Jesus does not intend to scare us.  He is simply telling us, getting our attention so that we can focus on what we have here, in this moment.  Yet another opportunity to strive for the best we can be.

There is no hidden message, puzzle, or conundrum.  God does not dangle a carrot in front of us so that we can chase our way into heaven.  It is as simple as Micah 6:8 “You have been told, o mortal, what is good and what the lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Easier said than done.  Yes, but not impossible!

What is the difference between the faithful and prudent servant and the wicked one?  Is this a dumb question?  It may seem obvious that each is identified and associated with their choice, but it goes beyond that.  We all make good and bad choices.  We are sinners.  But we are saved by the mercy, forgiveness, and love of God.

What helps us make better or good choices over evil ones?  The grace of God we receive when we are close to Him. I know when I am weak and prone to making poor choices versus when I am feeling strong with a will that takes me to higher ground.  It all revolves around my prayer life and all the other moments where I invite, seek the Lord.  It could be the latest YouTube video of a Father Mike Schmitz or Bishop Barron homily, the study of a new prayer, saint, or other sources of grace in various forms of media.  It might be a cup of coffee with my wife where we talk about how our faith affects our everyday life and how we see the fruits of God’s abundant grace.  It could be a moment of silence, gratitude, remembering a loved one or friend who has asked for prayer.  It could be…

We do not become good and faithful or wicked in a single moment even though we are capable of either at any time.  No, we work our way to greater holiness through a lifetime of effort and cooperation with God’s grace in all the places just mentioned and more.  We work our way to Calvary and to the glory of resurrection through a life filled with good and bad.  The road to perdition, although not as arduous, is also a process.  We all receive the gift of free will.  It is up to us how we choose to develop our abilities so that when the thief comes our lives will reflect an overwhelming consistent effort to do justice, love goodness, and walk humbly with our God.

Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, you are slow to anger and rich in kindness, help us not to take you for granted and live our lives in a consistent manner that reflects gratitude for your generosity.  May we live every day as if it is our last so that at the end of our time here on earth we may receive your mercy as good and faithful servants.

Action for the Day: What will it take to keep us awake.  Additional or different forms of prayer?  Reading a good book or starting a video/audio series that will help develop our faith.  Going to mass one more day a week?  Find the spiritual spark that will awaken in us a greater desire to seek, find, and follow the will of God.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

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