Thursday of the 21st Week of the Year

Matt 24:42-51

The Unknown Day and Hour


Examination day in hell. Three young devils were shivering in cold sweat – despite the heat. Their Principal, Professor Satanus, looked at them and said: “”Just one question, what will you do on earth to bring a rich harvest of souls to me?”

The first devil answered: “I will tell the people that God doesn’t exist.” ‘Bad approach,” Satan grumbles, “too many know deep in their hearts that my enemy exists, especially when they are about to die.”

The second devil shivered even more when he said: “I will tell them that hell doesn’t exist.” “Bad approach,” Satan sneered, “too many experience already a hell of a life and know that sin leads to eternal misery.”

The third devil was terrified by the bad results of this exam. But he was a clever fellow. He said: “I will tell the people that there is no hurry to change. That there is always a tomorrow.” “Splendid! You may graduate. You will bring souls by the millions.”

Christ knew so well our tendency to postpone difficult things. He knew that the most dangerous word for us “tomorrow!”, that many would get lost because they thought there is still plenty of time.

“Watch, therefore, for you do not know the day your Lord will come,” today’s gospel begins.

The early Christians expected the end of everyday and lived an exemplary life. They made the best out of every hour because it might be the last. We have become complacent. The Second Coming of Christ did not happen for nearly two thousand years. The many predictions of the end were tales alarms. So we are tempted to live as if we are living forever, forgetting the basic warning of Christ: be ready! Be always prepared! Change today, tomorrow could be too late. The gift of days, of hours and moments is precious, sometimes precious beyond counting. (Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


It is totally unnerving experience to hear that a friend whom you were talking and joking with some hours ago died so suddenly. Yes, death sometimes comes so sudden and so fast that we are left utterly shocked. That is why we should take our Lord’s words seriously in today’s gospel text! Stay awake and be on our guard, always, for our Lord will come at an hour we least expect.

There is nothing so uncertain in this world than death and yet nothing so absolutely certain also than death. Death is unpredictable and yet we also know that we will all most certainly die without exception. So the wise thing to do is to be prepared always and everywhere. “As you live so you shall die,” says the Proverb. So if you want to have a good death, live a good life. It is as simple as that. Oftentimes we are tempted to say, like the servant in today’s gospel story, that we are still to young and too healthy and too strong to die. Let us eat and drink and make merry, and sow wild oats. We have plenty of time to amend our life later. You want to gamble and play Russian roulette? Go on. After all it is only your eternal salvation or damnation that is at stake. (Fr. Teng dela Cruz, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


The Lord will come like a thief in the night. During Jesus’ time, most people lived in houses made of mud bricks so that thieves literally dug through the mud walls to break into a house. Note that in this small parable, the householder expects the thief and knows the time when the thief comes – at night. Thievery, like today, was common, partly due to the worsening economic condition brought about by the Roman occupation and unstable political situation. No wonder that the certainty of the Lord’s second coming (or in Greek, Parousia) is often compared to a thief in night (1Thess 5:2; 2Pt 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15).

This parable does not intend to exalt thievery but to make a satire of those who were mocking the early Christians because they kept on waiting and waiting for the Parousia that was not seen to be coming. Likewise, some of the Christians themselves were already losing hope. Life was getting harder. Should they still hold on to that hope?

The message in today’s gospel is that the Son of Man will certainly return, like the expected thief in the night. Hence, Jesus commanded his disciples: “Watch!” In Greek, this word is gregoreite, which literally means, “Keep awake!” It is not a passive but an active watching and waiting for the Lord’s return. What is active watching? The second small parable provides a hint: sharing of basic necessities in life like food (v. 45); respect for the dignity of others (v. 49a) and simply lifestyle amid poverty (v. 49b). The hope for the Lord’s return impels the Christians to act in the spirit of justice and charity (read Matt 25:3-46). Fr. Randy Flores, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


Jesus admonishes us in today’s gospel: “Stay awake! For you do not know which day your Lord will come.” The key word “stay awake” means that we watch ourselves, or our hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and cares of life. (Lk 21:34). When we have full and plenty it is easier to forget about God who gave us full and plenty. When we are enjoying the gifts we may forget the Giver of the gifts. A poem by an anonymous writer offers us further reflections on how to stay awake:

Take time to think – it is the source of power.

Take time to read – it is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to play – it is the secret of staying young.

Take time to be quiet – it is the opportunity to seek God.

Take time to be aware – it is the opportunity to help others.

Take time to love and be loved – it is God’s greatest gift.

Take time to laugh – it is the music of the soul.

Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness.

Take time to dream – it is what the future is made of.

Take time to pray –it is the greatest power on earth.

(Fr. Deva Savariyappan, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


This gospel is part of the eschatological discourse (Matt 24-25) which presents the Matthean doctrine on the last days. Eschatology (doctrine on the last days) teaches that the return of Christ in the end of time is certain. Uncertain is the time when Jesus returns. The early Christians thought that the Lord Jesus would return in their lifetime, within their generation. When the apostles died and Jesus did not return, the teaching on eschatology had to be revised (cf. 2Peter).

The Matthean eschatological discourse is one such revision: the certainty of the Lord’s Parousia is maintained. The problem is the interim period, the waiting period of everyday Christian living. The answer is the attitude of vigilance and constant waiting, because the Lord can return anytime. Matthew expounds the attitude of vigilance in seven parables. The last 4 parables are the more important: the parable of the prudent servant teaches ready vigilance – to be always ready to open when the Lord returns; the parable of the ten virgins teaches loving vigilance – to keep our lamps burning; the parable of the ten talents teaches effective vigilance. The final parable teaches us to accept that the Lord is always present in “the least of His brethren.”

To quote John Meier: “What does it mean to be watchful (Prudent Servant) and ready (Ten Virgins) and faithful (Talents)? To be watchful means to be able to recognize the Son of Man in these people; to be faithful means to translate this love into active service, into concrete deeds of mercy. This is the criterion by which one enters into or is rejected from eternal life.”

In brief, the Lord is sure to return (Parousia), but there is no need to worry about His return, as long as we truly serve Him, already now, in “the least of His brethren.” (Fr. Willy Villegas, SVD Bible Diary 2008)


I have been involved in a construction of a small resort owned by a cooperative whose members are the migrant workers in Korea. The construction was supervised by an engineer, who, on many occasions, was not present in the site. When she was present, the workers were diligent and hardworking; but, when she was out, the pace of work slowed down. One day the engineer came in late. The workers thought she would no longer come that day, so many of them went easy with their assigned tasks. Few even hid themselves in the bunkhouse not doing anything. Some workers lay asleep. They were caught off-hand when the engineer arrived. That resulted in their dismissal from work. No matter how much they pleaded to be retained, for that was their only source of income to feed their family, they were not given a chance.

The warning to keep in constant watch may not have much significance for those who do not have any experience of facing its consequence. Oftentimes, that warning is ignored so that when punishment comes, it would be already too late.

The call of Jesus is that we have to be in constant watch for we do not know the day or the hour but it may not have to be boring, laborious and tedious. There are ways to make watching interesting and enjoyable. First we have to be responsible in everything we do. We all play different roles in life and we are expected to do our best to fulfil that role. Second, we have to live good Christian lives. We have to live according to the faith we have accepted. And third, we have to live a life of service. Much of the discontentment in life is due to our selfish concerns. Focusing on our own selves alone leads to greed and dissatisfaction in life. We have to reach out to those who are in need.  With these three we can be sure that on the day the Lord comes, we shall not be found unprepared. (Fr. Eugene Docoy, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


August 30, 2012

St. Pammachius
Thursday of the 21st Week

1 Cor 1:1-9
Ps 145
Mt 24:42-51

The Unknown Day and Hour

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 42“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 43Be 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. 44So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

45“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? 46Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. 47Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 48But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ 49and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, 50the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour 51and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”


You do not know on which day your Lord will come. The Gospel speaks of the sudden coming of Jesus and so of the need to be vigilant. To be vigilant is to be attentive and watchful, and it demands patience and perseverance.

To wait for the Lord is to stay focused on God’s commandments, being faithful, keeping ourselves from being led astray by erroneous teachings or false prophets, or distracted by the lure of riches and pleasures. As we wait for Jesus, we must be attentive to his word and more involved in his works.

To work for Jesus is not to eat and drink but to be in charge of his household. We must shake off our complacency and our carefree ways and keep ourselves busy for the Lord, busy for his works. We must continue how Jesus lived and share what Jesus did.

Are we watchful of God’s intervention in our life? How do we wait and work for the Lord?


“Give me chastity and continence, but not just yet.” This is the famous passage from St. Augustine of Hippo in his book Confessions, a spiritual classic. The quote implies an unreadiness of a saint who is in need of virtue. It sounds like the typical good intentions of chain-smokers and alcoholics. “Of course, I want to stop, but not yet.” We know what is better for us, but we are not in a hurry to become our better selves. This moral procrastination might become problematic, if we don’t have much time left.

During a visit to a nursing home for the aged, a 106-year-okd lady told me, “Young people tend to think that fulfilled life is having the longest of years. That may be true if you have no debilitating sickness, have plenty of money and lots of friends. But if you are sick, poor and most of your friends have passed away, then death is not a bad idea at all. So do not what your heart desires, while you still have the time and strength” It was an honest advice filtered by long experience.

Jesus’ admonition to be watchful always “for you do not know the day” is not an appeal to install more security cameras and alarm systems into your house against thieves. He wants us to be secure by refining our moral system. Life could be over sooner than you think. When it is “game over,” there is no reset button similar to computer games. Real life is unfortunately only a one-way ticket. Jesus message is an urgent call to reformat one’s life according to God’s will without delay.

Time is precious because it is limited. It is therefore advisable to spend more time with important rather than urgent things. It might be too late to postpone essential things at retirement age or during free time. In his Confessions, St. Augustine also wrote, “Life is misery, death an uncertainty. Suppose it steals suddenly upon me, in what state shall I leave this world? When can I learn what I have neglected to learn? (Fr. Simon Boiser SVD Bible Diary 2014)


August 25, 2016 Thursday

A retired engineer, Harold Camping, predicted May 21, 2011 as the end of the world. Some took it seriously and anxiously; some were skeptical. Mr. Camping later on confessed to having miscalculated it and moved the date to October 21 of the same year. Such predictions sow fear in anyone who is gullible enough to believe these so-called doomsday prophets.

Jesus says it very differently. Rather than striking fear in his listeners’ hearts then (and to us today), he posed a challenge. He poses the same challenge to us to be ready (“Stay awake!”) because we do not know when the end will come. Readiness may take on different forms. But being ready always would mean that right here right now, one is making best eff orts to put order in his/her life.

This may mean making eff orts to be reconciled with those one is not in good terms with. It means letting go of many material things that are unnecessary in one’s life and are cluttering up what could be a simple and uncomplicated life. It could mean moves towards conversion and a change of heart and resolute eff orts to leave one’s sinful past and trust in God’s help towards leading a life of love and compassion for others. Whatever form our preparations may take, we have to take the Lord’s challenge seriously for, after all, no one knows when his/her end would come. (Fr. Samuel Agcaracar, SVD Rome, Italy Bible Diary)


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

THURSDAY OF THE 21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – MATEO 24:42-51. ANDAM NA BA KITA SA PAG-ABOT SA ATONG KAMATAYON? Kasagaran kanato dili andam; ang uban wala gyoy plano nga mangandam. Daghan ang dili ganahan mag-estorya sa realidad sa kamatayon tungod kay giisip nila kini nga “taboo” o butang nga dili angay’ng hisgotan. Aduna puy patoo-too nga kon ang tawo maghisgot og kamatayon, madali ang iya mismong kamatayon. Dili kini tinuod. Ang ebanghelyo nagtudlo mahitungod sa kamatayon – usa ka realidad nga angay’ng atubangon, dili ilimod; pangandaman, dili baliwalaon. Ang kamatayon gipakasama sa usa ka kawatan tungod kay moabut kini sa panahon nga wala nato damha. Tungod niini gihagit kita nga mahisama sa usa ka sulugoon nga matarong ug matinud-anon sa mga buluhaton. Kon mahimo nato kini, gantihan kita sa Dios og kinabuhing dayon. Posted by Abet Uy


Thursday, August 25, 2016

THURSDAY OF THE 21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C) – MATEO 24:42-51. ANDAM BA KITA SA PAG-ABOT SA ATONG KAMATAYON? Kasagaran kanato dili andam; ang uban wala gani magplano nga mangandam. Daghan ang dili ganahan mag-estorya sa reyalidad sa kamatayon tungod kay giisip nila kini nga “taboo” o butang nga dili angay’ng hisgotan. Aduna usay patoo-too nga kon ang tawo maghisgot og kamatayon, madali ang iya mismong kamatayon. Dili kini tinuod. Ang ebanghelyo karon nagtudlo nga ang kamatayon usa ka reyalidad nga angay’ng atubangon, dili ilimod; pangandaman, dili baliwalaon. Ang ebanghelyo naghulagway sa kamatayon sama sa kawatan tungod kay muabot kini sa panahon nga wala nato damha. Busa, gihagit kita nga mag-andam kanunay sa pag-abot niini. Adunay panultihon, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Hinaot nga dili kini mahitabo kanato. Posted by Abet Uy


THERE MIGHT BE NO TOMORROW – Today and tomorrow, the Gospel readings have more or less the same message: Be alert and always ready! In other words, Jesus admonishes all of His followers to be vigilant, for lack of vigilance invites disaster. I have heard people say, “Jesus spoke about His Second Coming but after centuries it did not happen.” But do we have to wait for the end of the world to meet the Lord? No! In the hour of our death, we will meet and face Him. And nobody knows when death, like a “thief in the night,” will come to us.

Many Christians have become lukewarm because they have forgotten the inconvenient truth about death. Jesus is very realistic when He calls for vigilance. But we often become lazy. We postpone a decision to improve our faith life. How often do we promise in confession “not to sin again?” We procrastinate too much, thinking there is no rush. I read a funny story, but it’s a story with a profound message. It goes like this:

Three apprentice devils prepared to go to earth to finish their apprenticeship. Before they left, they were talking to their master, Satan, about how they would tempt and ruin men. The first said, “I will tell them there is no God.” Satan laughed and said, “That will not delude many, for most know that there is a God.” The second said, “I will tell them there is no hell.” Satan shook his head and answered, “You will deceive no one that way; most know even now that there is a hell for unrepentant sinners.” The third said, “I will tell them there is no hurry.” Satan clapped his hands and shouted, “Go and you will ruin them by the thousand.”

The most dangerous of all illusions is that there is a lot of time. Many live for today and think that if there is a tomorrow, let tomorrow care for itself.

When it comes to the future of our souls, things cannot be put off, for nobody knows if there will still be a tomorrow. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD

REFLECTION QUESTION: Do you tend to postpone important things for your spiritual life?

Lord, often I am too complacent when it comes to preparing for my eternal life. Wake me up, Lord, and make me always aware of the urgency to be prepared for Your Second Coming. Amen.


Thursday of the 21st Week in the Ordinary Time

1 Cor 1: 1-9; Mt 24: 42-51

Stay Awake

In our day today life we experience that many people in several departments stay awake to keep others life moving forward.

The nurses take night shift and stay awake so that the patients can sleep well and get well soon.

The mother stays awake when her child is sick; when her daughter is appearing in a public examination.

The father is awake and worried since his grown up daughters stay at home as he is unable to marry them off.

The brother is waiting in the early hours at the Railway Station for his sister to arrive after a long journey.

The drivers and pilots stay awake in trains, buses and planes so that they can reach the travellers safe to their respective destinations.

In big industrial areas and production units, employees stay awake and work hard round the clock for good quality production and industrial growth.

In big industrial areas and other high sensitive areas, guards keep vigil to protect and safeguard properties and industrial machines and equipments.

There are yogis keeping awake in early hours of the day to have ‘the first darsan’ of God and to have mystical union with God.

In Charismatic retreat centres, devotees keep night vigils and prayer hours for the success of the retreat and for the wellbeing of the humanity.

During Ramzan the Muslim brethren stay awake from  4 0’ clock in the morning for namaz and daily prayers.

So people stay awake in the families, in the working places, public transporting systems for the safety of the dear ones, for the wellbeing of the humanity which requires sacrifices, vigil and disciplined life.

There is a beautiful Psalm- Ps. 130. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.” (v. 6). The guards who watch and keep awake the whole night eagerly wait for the dawn and in the morning they are very happy.

For us Jesus, the morning star (Revelation 22:16) is the hope. He will reward the faithful servants who stay awake when the master is coming.

Fr Shepherd Thelapilly CMI


August 25, 2016

REFLECTION: It is difficult to be a good parent. Each child is so different from the next! Each requires close observation in order to be truly understood. And that requires a lot of time and attention on the part of, say, a dutiful father. If, on top of that, a father has to hold down a job which is very demanding, and if a father is going through times of political upheaval, he will have to be a very good man to fulfill all his duties as a husband, a father, and a provider.

The saint we are remembering today fills pretty much the above description, except that his particular job was to be a king. Louis, king of France, raised eleven children. And he raised them in an exceptionally good way, making true Christians of them. As a king, he went through great pains to be absolutely fair toward everybody. Unfortunately, he felt compelled to heed the call of the Pope and to join the Crusade of 1248, only to return to France after 6 years of great hardships. In 1267 Louis participated in a second Crusade, but this time he died of disease in Tunis.

Here was a truly holy layman. We need many more laymen like him.


Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

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