30 August. Thursday of Week Twenty One
1 Cor 1:1ff. Greeting the Corinthian church, Paul acknowledges their gifts and prays for them.
Matthew 24:42ff. The faithful servant always awaits his master who may come by surprise.
Paul’s Practical Spirituality
The local Pauline churches eagerly waited for the glorious Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle prays that their hearts be strengthened, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. Similarly, in his greeting he prays that they be “blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus.” Today’s gospel also has this theme in its opening words, “Stay awake, therefore. You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.”
We are to be alert and prepared, but not to the extent of some early enthusiasts who quit their jobs so as to give themselves full time to prayers and vigilance. Paul handled that crisis briskly, with the dictum, “Anyone who will not work should not eat.” The Corinthians are praised as “richly endowed with every gift of speech and knowledge.” This encouragement is sincerely meant, yet there is an indirect admonition there too, for this church that never won Paul’s affection as did the Thessalonians or the Philippians. If he praises the Corinthians’ cleverness, he sees them lacking in unity and charity, the two most essential virtues.
Jesus calls for good stewards who treat others in the household with love and respect, eat and drink temperately, and always stay alert. Such a person is a faithful and wise servant. But if the Scriptures do not tolerate idle dreamers, neither are we to become mere busy-bodies, masters of trivia, beaurocrats with no time for contemplation, strategists with no moral principles, manipulators without mercy or concern. We are asked to judge everything in light of the Lord’s return “like a thief in the night.” Today’s texts ask us to be practical and diligent; to be men and women of vision and moral perspective; most of all to be prayerful and personally aware of the presence of our Lord Jesus.
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sos’thenes, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
“Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possession. But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.