28Aug 28th August. Thursday of Week 21

Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church.

Augustine of Hippo, in modern Tunisia, (354-430), was converted to Christianity and baptised in 387. A lawyer by training, he developed his own approach to philosophy and theology, accommodating a variety of methods and perspectives. Believing that the grace of Christ was indispensable to authentic freedom, he formulated the doctrine of original sin and made seminal contributions to theology, including the just war theory. When the western Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God in a 20-volume work that profoundly influenced the medieval worldview and the scholastic theology of Thomas Aquinas.

First Reading:  1 Corinthians 1:1-9

(Greeting the Corinthian church, Paul acknowledges their gifts and prays for them.)

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

(The faithful servant always awaits his master who may come by surprise.)

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.

A practical spirituality

The local churches founded by St. Paul were urged to look out eagerly for the glorious return of Christ as saviour and judge. The apostle prays that their hearts be strengthened for that day, and in his greeting he prays that they be “blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus.” Today’s gospel also states this belief in the words of Jesus, “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 waiting for that day of days. Paul handled that crisis briskly with this tendency by saing that “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 warning for them too, and it is clear that this community never won the apostle’s affection as did the Thessalonians or the Philippians. If Paul praises the Corinthians’ cleverness, he sees them lacking in unity and charity, the two most essential virtues.

Jesus praises the good steward who treats others in the household with love and respect, eats and drinks temperately, and always stays alert to his duties. This is a faithful and wise servant. But if our faith does not tolerate idle dreaming, 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.

If the homily is to be about Saint Augustine, the Wikipedia article about him is well worth reading.

Scroll Up