The Word of God

The Expected Unexpected Hour

Reflection on Mass Reading for August 11, 2019

“The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.”  What did slaves and thieves have in common in Roman Antiquity? They were both branded on the forehead with a mark  called a stigma, and thereby said to have been “engraved” like a coin or a medal. Both types of individuals were certainly known to the culture of the time when today’s Scriptures were written. They also shared common punishments such as lashes and beatings, forced to carry a piece of wood around their necks, and in some cases, crucifixion. Of course, these are the same afflictions endured by Jesus as an integral part of the Paschal Mystery by which we are justified, redeemed and saved for a great future in Heaven. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.”

“Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” These specific references can help us realize several things about living the Christian Life, being a disciple and a follower of Jesus Christ: We have been marked in this life and claimed for someone or something. Our choice now is to determine for whom by how we live. As Christians today, we can expect to be punished as was Our Savior, in the court of popularity, greed, hatred and the Godless. Remaining faithful to the end, which comes secretly or unexpectedly and without being  seen, “like a thief in the night,” we are promised to take our place with the Lamb who has been slain and led to the “springs of life-giving water.” Because the victory is so great and the reward eternal, to those whom much is given, much is expected. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Talent is God-given: be humble. Fame is man-given: be grateful. Conceit is self-given: be careful.

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