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Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Thess. 3:7-13 & Mt. 24:42-51

A key teaching of Christian revelation - often ignored, misunderstood or even ridiculed – is revealed in today's Gospel reading. The teaching is that the return of Jesus is imminent: this means that it could happen at any time but, like a householder surprised by a thief in the night, we may be totally oblivious to this reality.

We tend to think that only extreme sects or groups of slightly unusual Christians live with a real sense that Jesus is coming again. If that is your view then you are in for a surprise. The Church has been longing for, praying for and urging Jesus' second coming since He ascended into Heaven almost 2,000 years ago. Struggling with this truth? Here is the clear teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, even though 'it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority.'"

How often have we recited the words, ‘Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again’ at Mass? These are central pillars of Christian revelation, about which Jesus clearly wanted His followers to be in no doubt.

The key ideas of today's parable are faithfulness, obedience and the reality of judgement. Jesus told us this parable so that we would be like a wise and prudent servant ready for His return. The servant in today's reading lost sight of the fact that his master would in time come back - his profligate behaviour and harsh treatment of his fellow servants brought judgement on him. The gift of life and the gift of love are awesome responsibilities - one day we will have to give an account of our lives and one day Jesus will return at a given moment in human history. Are we ready?

In winning souls for the Lord, Saint Paul had his share of troubles and sorrows. But we know from today's first reading that he found comfort in the thought that the seeds he had sown among the Thessalonians were flourishing. He cannot thank God enough for this and for the joy it brings him. He prays for their love to increase and that they will love each other and the whole human race as much as he loves them. He prays, too, for them to be holy and blameless until the Lord comes again.

Lord Jesus Christ, we want to be good, faithful and wise servants, ready for You whenever you return.

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