21st Week, Thursday, Aug 27

1 Cor 1:1-9 / Matthew 24:42-51
Paul encourages the Corinthians: God will keep you firm to the end.

A Jesuit missionary to Africa wrote this letter to his brothers at Loyola University in Chicago: Little boys chatter, fight and run foot races outside my window. Sometimes they stare in at me and watch me, as if I were a gorilla in a zoo. Women come with sick babies and sit on the floor outside my room, talking at the top of their voice.
All the villagers talk as if you’re 30 yards away. But these things are bearable and routine. “It’s the crisis of conscience that is hard. Christ said: ‘When you were hungry, you gave me to eat.’ But there’s nobody here who isn’t hungry; everyone comes for food.” Torrens Hecht, S.J.
We begin Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, one of the most famous and frequently quoted of his epistles. For three-and-a-half weeks, we will hear in the first reading excerpts from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It is among the most revealing of his writings in which he gives expression to a full gamut of emotions. In this letter, Paul has to face practical problems in a young Christian community in pagan territory, particularly its internal division into factions, lapses of morality, relations with pagans, the role of charisms, and faith in the resurrection, so difficult to Greeks.
Missionaries don’t have an easy life. They draw needed strength from Paul’s promise that God will strengthen them to the end. How do we cope with life when it grows hard? “Come to me, all of you who are tired . . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
In today’s reading, Paul begins by praising the rich and diverse endowments of the Corinthian Christians. Their many gifts, diverse charisms and enormous spiritual energy show how the Spirit was working among them in many ways. The task facing Paul was to try to unify this heterogeneity into a single community under the Lordship of Jesus. It is a task for any parish. 
The real function of the second coming is found in Jesus' words in today's Gospel reading. It gives us perspective. The three parables read the next three days, have all the same theme: Readiness for the coming of Christ. Each sets the accent differently. The first stresses watchfulness. To be alert and attentive to opportunities and the chances time offers.' The future holds for promises that are certain 'to 'happen and yet they are vested in uncertainty of when and where and how they will come to pass. A sailor's wife is not eagerly waiting for her husband if she spends her time on the sea shore looking out and waiting for him. She is more ready and prepared for his coming when she spends the time being busy about her household work and looking after her children. Watchfulness is not mere waiting but readiness, preparedness for the coming of Christ, eager expectation Christ coming as Saviour and as judge.
When we have to keep watch and stay awake especially when we are guarding something precious, it is a heavy responsibility. In the military, if a soldier is caught sleeping while on guard duty, he will be severely punished. But it is not that we have to stay awake and keep watch all the time. If we were to do that, fatigue will set in and we will lose attention. But when it is our turn to keep watch and stay awake, then we have to be on alert and be responsible for the duration of our watch. So, when Jesus tells us to stay awake and be on alert, He is asking us to be on the watch as to when He is telling us something and wants us to get it done. We see that watchfulness and alertness in the 1st reading as St. Paul says that he never stopped thanking God for all the graces that the Corinthians received through Jesus Christ. He kept thanking God for enriching the Corinthians with teachers and preachers and the strong witnessing to Christ by the Corinthians.

He further encourages them that God will keep them steady and without blame until the coming of Jesus Christ. Learning from St. Paul, we know that by giving thanks constantly, we are already on the watch and alert for the coming of Jesus. Let us be faithful and keep giving thanks and we will be rewarded by Jesus.

Let us pray: Lord our God, you have called us to life to be happy ourselves and to make others happy. Make us vividly aware of our responsibility for one another. Help us to be faithful servants whose faith in you is made visible in deeds of sincere love, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God bless.