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Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
Gospel Matthew 24:42-51

"‘Stay awake!’”

"Stay awake!” Our Lord tells us.

I’m sure all of us have had experiences throughout our lives where we struggled to stay awake. Maybe those experiences were experiences of waiting for someone to return home late at night. In such a case, you might have experienced any sort of emotion: perhaps joy, or perhaps fear, or perhaps anger. Maybe the experience was one of driving late at night, anxious and exhausted, to reach a far-off destination. Maybe the experience was one of finishing a project, paper, or report for school or the office: such an experience may have been fraught with fear.

There is a wide variety of emotion which can accompany the experience of trying to stay awake, but if we consider the two events that Jesus’ words today concern—the coming of Christ in salvation history, and Christ coming to us at the moment of our death—we see that these two things share something in common: namely, that they are both unexpected in terms of when they will occur. To stay awake for these two things is to stay awake for the unexpected. Do not expect Christ to be part of your life in the way that you expect, or even perhaps in the way that you would prefer.