Thursday 21st Week in Ordinary Time Gospel Reflection

All the Mass Readings for today can be found here
Reflections are on the Gospel. Mt 24 :42-51. 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.

Be 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.

So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
“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?


Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.

But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

My Reflection

When I was a child I remember that the last sentence of this Gospel passage really frightened the hell out of me and even now I find  the image scary in the stark image it conveys.
There are not many people I  know who can live their lives as if the kingdom of heaven was likely to be nigh at every waking moment. Maybe it is only in a truly contemplative and monastic life that the literal sense of the message of constant awareness and celebration of God can be  fulfilled. 

Annie Dillard wrote, "How we spend our days, is of course how we spend our lives." 

But there are many who are subtly aware at a subliminal level that the life we lead is far from the sort of life we should be living. We often crave for the change that will allow us to live the authentic life in the light and grace of the love of God we were surely meant to live. 

Earning a living, working for social justice, caring for the environment, having time for a personal life ...... so little time, so much to do and so on it whirling dervishes we spin constantly through the hours and the days and the years,, twisting and turning the word of God to suit our motives, to rationalise our efforts or idling the time and lay waste to the gifts we have been given.
But unlike the Sufi dancers our dance is often not one of faith and so our lives boil down to a choice :  to work-  or to dance. On the best days if we are lucky , they become one and the same...............
but as Henry David Thoreau noted 
"Most "men " lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

What about the "good ones" who go through their lives wanting more to centre it in God  but accepting less and in doing so gradually accept a life that is lacking passion and their ideals wither on the vine ?

There are those wanting to do more but  are torn inside, resigning themselves to accepting the status quo and not taking any action to make  life and the lives of those around them full of the peace and grace that only God can give.

Sometimes we think we have the ability and the grace to make the changes we want, but despite our hopes and desires we are simply too tired, drained, burnt out and discouraged to do so and so we do not stay awake and end up " sleeping on the job", God's job.
above :Untitled painting by Ben Shahn
and below same artist

The words of William Wordsworth ring out the message 
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon" !

The Gospel passage today shows that God has no time for the people who are actively working against the love of God and who explicitly exploit others but I think that there are more subtle messages we can take away for we all are "sleeping on the job" we have been given.


My prayer today is that I will put  God at the centre of my life at every moment and not relegate Him to the margins and only from time to time giving and paying attention when it suits me.
I pray that my faith will be patient and my vision clear even if I cannot see the approach of God or even the right path to take to meet Him on.

May God help me to believe that this pathway I am on today and everyday really does lead to eternal life and that I may renew my vision and do His will and not mine !! 

I pray that God will give me the 
courage and tenacity
to not let me and all those I can help
"  go to the grave with the song still in us."

As for the wailing and grinding of those teeth .............. it still gives me the shivers to think about it.

Composition for Clarinets and Tin Horn, 1951,Ben Shahn

1 comment:

claire said...

As a child, I too was scared by the grinding of teeth, Phil. In fact, I wonder what made Matthew, or whoever added this bit, put it in...

Neat reflection. Great illustrations, Phil!