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Thursday – Twenty-first week – OT1
Readings: I Thes 3:7-13; Mt 24:42-51.
1/ First Reading: RSV 1 Thessalonians 3:7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God, 10 praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, `My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
I. THEME: Be always persevered in training.
Many people have a tendency to delay till tomorrow what they could do today because they think they have plenty of time to do it. Vietnamese adages have many sentences to oppose this tendency; for examples, “What you can do today, don’t delay until tomorrow.” Or “Don’t wait until water comes to your feet, then jump.” Or “If you don’t foresee, bad things shall happen.” This tendency is more dangerous for the spiritual life, and the devil knows how to use it to destroy people’s soul. The faithful, especially the young, often think they have their whole life to prepare for the Last Day, so they could freely enjoy all worldly things and wait until their old ages to repent and to return to God. Moreover, God is the merciful Father, they only need a few minutes on their deathbed to repent; it is still enough to enter the heaven, as one of the two thieves on the right side of Jesus. Many people have this same attitude were lost, because they don’t know what their last moment on earth is; many died at their young age. Moreover, it isn’t easy to repent when they are so deeply in sins, either they no longer want to escape, or they have no power to do it.
Today readings give us two cases to teach us that we must always be persevered in training while we wait for Christ’s second coming. In the first reading, St. Paul illustrated by his own life. He found all possible ways to advice, to teach and to pray for the Thessalonians so that they could be firm in their faith and become holy and blameless and be worthy to welcome Christ in his second coming. In the Gospel, Jesus illustrates by the story of an owner who divides duties for his servants before he goes away. He shall come back at the time which they least expect and shall reward or punish them depending on what he found.
1/ Reading I: All must be prepared for Christ’s second coming.
1.1/ The faithful must always orient their life to the Last Day: because this is the ultimate goal of their life. St. Paul clearly stated about this day, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” St. Paul mentioned two things which the faithful must train to have them.
(1) To be firm in their faith: The faith which the faithful received on the Baptismal day is only a seed. The faithful needs to train so that seed might grow, become a big tree and bear fruits. Faith is never considered as pure knowledge or happened in a moment; it must be expressed by actions in one’s whole life so that he might overcome all trials and sufferings of his life.
(2) To be pure and holy: The faithful must prepare for their life by expelling all bad habits and evil tendencies, and by training to possess all necessary virtues like God, who is good and holy.
1.2/ The faithful must train themselves during their life on earth: The faithful are not the dreamers whom their head is on heaven, but their body is glued to the bed. In opposition, they must train their soul and body in the way to achieve two above purposes. Looking at what St. Paul did for his faithful, we recognize the following important lessons:
(1) He sincerely cared for his faithful so that they might have a firm faith. He wrote, “Brethren, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith; for now, we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.” The joy he has is to see them growing up in the Lord, “For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God.”
(2) He prayed and asked God to fill up what is lacking: As a human being, everyone has weaknesses and shortcomings. St. Paul knew that no matter how hard he tried, it isn’t enough for the faithful to become perfect; so, he relied on his prayer. He wrote, “Praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith.”
(3) He often visited to encourage them: The spiritual leaders, such as: parents, Godparents, pastors, etc. have duty to care for the faith of those whom we have responsibility their whole life, not only on their Baptismal day or the period which they live with us. St. Paul always tried to find opportunities to return to visit, and to encourage the communities he established. When he couldn’t come, he wrote to them.
(4) He developed charity and let it dwell in the community: Charity is the most important virtue of the faithful. Recognize its importance, St. Paul advised his faithful, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you.”
2/ Gospel: We must prepare to come to God when we still have time.
Jesus revealed to us this important information about the Last Day in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 24-25: First, that day shall certainly be happened. Secondly, only the Father knows the day and the hours when it happens. To prepare for that day, people need to do the following things:
(1) To be prepared: The unexpected element shall happen on the Last Day; therefore, all need to be prepared. Today Gospel used the image of a thief to emphasize the unexpected element: “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.” To be prepared is to have all necessary things to present before God, such as: to have a strong faith in God, to love and to help others and to be clean of all sins.
(2) To fulfill our daily duties: After having been prepared, the faithful need to fulfill their daily duties. One test to recognize who is the wise and faithful person is to visit them un-announcing. If one always works hard no matter if his master presents or absents and always fulfills his duties, he is the wise and faithful person whom his master can trust and give all important tasks to him.
(3) To be awake and to wait for our Lord by living every day like our last day: One danger which often occurs for the faithful is that day shall not happen for a long time. This is a sure temptation of the devil and many people felt in this trap. Some said that “I am still young so that God shall not call me. I will enjoy my life to the fullest and repent when I am old.” Others reasoned, “I don’t need to be a Christian now because if I am, I must keep countless of laws and make confessions. I shall wait until I lie on the death bed, then I shall convert because the good Lord shall also pay me a denarius even, I worked only one hour.” But they forgot about the unexpected element of life, God can take them away when they are unprepared as the unworthy servant in today reading.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must always be prepared for the Last Day by making our faith grow, by eliminating bad habits, and by training to possess virtues and to be more holy every day.
– We must try to fulfill God’s given mission. We must try hard to care for those, whom we are responsible for, to have a firm faith and a holy life.