Thursday of the 21st Week of Ordinary Time – Mt 24:42-51
Today’s Gospel brings out the theme of “watchfulness” in contrast to Christ’s rebukes of the scribes and Pharisees that we’ve been hearing these past days (in all fairness, we skipped ahead quite a bit). Here, Jesus issues a warning: “If the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.” This saying reminds us of other, similar ones that we find in the New Testament, where Christ tells us that He will come like “a thief in the night.” Thieves, of course, don’t give any warning that they are coming; the home owner must always be ready. Christ’s coming will be sudden and, although we can read the signs of the times, we don’t know the precise hour or day. To the one who is unprepared, Christ’s Second coming will not be a welcome surprise at all, just like the punishment the servants would receive if the master returned to find them all asleep or the steward who lived poorly and led others astray because he forgot that at some point, his master would return.
What is it, then, that Christ wants us to do? He tells us to keep watch, to be ready for whenever He returns. How do we do this? By always trying to grow in holiness, to keep striving after perfection. If we find that we’re frightened or worried about Christ’s second coming, or wish that it would be later rather than sooner, we should examine ourselves to see how we are living. If we are afraid of death or the second coming, the problem is not with Christ, but with us and the way we live. A pastor once used to ask his flock, “Do you think Jesus will come today?” Of course, most people told him “No,” to which he would reply, “Be careful! He’ll come when you least expect it!” How differently we would live if we really thought to ourselves, “Jesus will come today!” But, this is the attitude Jesus is asking for!
To be vigilant means to be ready to go to heaven, and to live my life in light of it. It means trying to follow God’s commandments, which “are not burdensome,” (1 Jn 5:3) as Saint John tells us. God gives us all the graces that we need to get there; all we need to do it live every day in light of it.
We can think of Saint Monica as an example of this faithfulness. The story of her life is well-known, but it is worth recalling that, by her example of patience and love, as well as constant prayer, she was rewarded with the grace of the conversion not only of her son Augustine (after 17 years), but also of her husband as well as countless others. She lived a life full of the presence of God, and was rewarded accordingly, both in this life as well as in heaven.
Let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Heaven, for the grace to live in such a way as to merit the rewards of eternal life.