First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
We have been reassured about you, brothers and sisters, in our every distress and affliction, through your faith. For we now live, if you stand firm in the Lord. What thanksgiving, then, can we render to God for you, for all the joy we feel on your account before our God? Night and day we pray beyond measure to see you in person and to remedy the deficiencies of your faith. Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 90:3-5A, 12-13, 14 AND 17
Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy! You turn man back to dust, saying, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!
Gospel: Matthews 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.”
“Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come."
Frankly, I get a bit weirded out when I think about my impending demise, especially if I think it could happen soon. I know that The End is coming, but . . . theoretically. And once I've reached a ripe, old age. Surely my life is challenging enough without having the thought of imminent death lurking overhead!
Yet, as Christians, we know that death is not truly the end, but merely the beginning of life transformed through Him! Thankfully, Jesus reminds us in today's Gospel that, if we consider that we could meet Him at any point, our lives will be more meaningful and fruitful than if we mistakenly believe death and final judgement is a myth.
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Monica, otherwise known as Saint Augustine's mother. A devout woman, Monica was keenly aware that her son's notoriously licentious ways were not the stuff that would fit him for Heaven when he reached his particular judgement. And so, Monica prayed. And wept. And prayed more. Eventually, after many years of steadfast dedication to her son's conversion, Augustine was received into the Church and was eventually named a Doctor of the Faith.
Are there people in your life for whom you're concerned—family members or friends—who may be, like the wicked servant in today's Gospel, busy living it up with no concern for their salvation? Maybe they're like pre-Saint Augustine, who said, "Lord, grant me chastity, but not yet." Maybe everything you've tried to help your loved one see the light has seemingly failed.
Take a page from Monica and take heart. Her persistent prayers not only led to her son's conversion, but her formerly pagan husband's salvation as well. Both of these men's lives, and countless more, were transformed through the patient intercession of this remarkable woman.
My friend, never, ever, ever underestimate the importance of prayer—your prayer. As we read in James 5:16, "The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful." And once you've prayed, keep praying . . . yet don't worry. You may not see instant results, but trust that God is faithful—He is working.
Believing that no soul is ever beyond the merciful love of our God, for whom will you pray today? My friend, you are not alone in your intentions; your Blessed is She community is praying with and for you.
St. Monica, pray for us.
Heather Renshaw is a writer, speaker, and uplifter who used to be an Augustine but came back to the Church in part thanks to a Monica in her life. She keeps her head above water with a husband and five children in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about her here.