Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, September 1, 2017

1Thes 4:9-11; Ps 98:1,7,8,9; Mk 6:17-29
“Prosper the work of our hands.”

With today’s psalm we plead for wisdom of heart. We ask the Lord to teach us to number our days aright; we ask the Lord to have pity on his servants. We are dust and we return to dust. However, if we receive the kindness of the Lord we will shout for joy and gladness all our days. Our days pass quickly, like a watch of the night, and every moment of our lives is an opportunity to accept the salvation of our God. The wisdom of humility enables us to turn from sin and live in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we accept the gracious care of the Lord our God, the work of our hands will prosper. We will be able to do God’s work in building His kingdom of peace and justice, His kingdom of love and joy, His kingdom of truth and freedom. This was the great work of Saint Paul among the Thessalonians. For this ministry, Saint Paul prayed daily that the Lord Jesus made his new converts increase and abound in love for one another and for all. We, too, must stay awake in prayer so that when the Master returns, he will find us prospering. We pray at this Mass and every day that He will prosper the work of our hands, the work of building as fully as possible in this world the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that ultimately comes as His gift.

The Apostle Paul found his true and only life in Christ as he wrote elsewhere, “For me, to live is Christ.” Saint Paul’s faith gave him a new life that was nourished and supported through the struggles of all his children to stand firm in the Lord. His every distress and affliction was a gracious witness of the kind of suffering necessary to be faithful to the Gospel. Saint Paul writes of his continuing thanksgiving for the joy he feels in the growth of those to whom he brought the new life of the children of God. He longs to journey to see them in person so as to remedy any deficiencies in their faith. Until he can be with them in person, Saint Paul prays night and day that they may love as he has loved them. He pleads with the Lord that they may be strengthened in heart, be blameless in heart, and be holy before the Father at the coming of the Lord Jesus and all his holy ones. The Holy Spirit inspired Saint Paul’s apostolic prayer, and it is the same prayer and the same Spirit who inspires us today. Unlike all the prophets of doom and gloom in our day, we look forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sufferings and dangers of life in the world today are the fires that purify our sacrificial prayer and witness. We join Saint Paul and all the saints in this sacrifice of thanksgiving for the strength received and the strength still needed to stand firm in the Lord. The gracious care of the Lord our God is ours here at this Eucharist.

One of the servants in today’s parable accuses the Master, "I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering were you did not scatter." Four other translations use the term "hard man" in place of "demanding." This kind of language reveals the great fear that kept this servant from simply putting his master’s money in the bank. If he could have been liberated from the fear of his master, he could have realized the safe option of using a bank. However, this servant did not wait for his master with tranquility or joyful hope. His fear was his undoing. Anyone who lives in fear will find himself in the darkness with all who wail and grind their teeth.

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