Scripture for the day – 27 August 2020. Thursday of Week 21
St Monica (Memorial)
Scripture for the day – First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul acknowledges the Corinthians’ gifts and prays for them.
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Word of the Lord.
Scripture for the day – Responsorial: from Psalm 145
R./: I will praise your name forever, o Lord
I will bless you day after day,
and praise your name forever.
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised.
his greatness cannot be measured. (R./)
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendour of your glorious majesty
and tell of your marvellous works. (R./)
They discourse of the power of your terrible deeds
and declare your greatness.
They publish the fame of your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice. (R./)
Scripture for the day – Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51
The faithful servant is always ready for the master’s return
Jesus said to his disciples, “Keep awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
“Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possession. But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Scripture for the day – Reflections – A practical spirituality
The local churches founded by St. Paul were urged to look out eagerly for the glorious return of Christ as saviour and judge. The apostle prays that their hearts be strengthened for that day, and in his greeting, he prays that they be “blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus.” Today’s gospel also states this belief in the words of Jesus, “Stay awake, therefore. You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.”
We are to be alert and prepared, but not to the extent of some early enthusiasts who quit their jobs so as to give themselves full time to prayers and waiting for that day of days. Paul handled that crisis briskly with this tendency by saying that “Anyone who will not work should not eat.” The Corinthians are praised as “richly endowed with every gift of speech and knowledge.” This encouragement is sincerely meant, yet there is an indirect warning for them too, and it is clear that this community never won the apostle’s affection as did the Thessalonians or the Philippians. If Paul praises the Corinthians’ cleverness, he sees them lacking in unity and charity, the two most essential virtues.
Jesus praises the good steward who treats others in the household with love and respect, eats and drinks temperately and always stays alert to his duties. This is a faithful and wise servant. But if our faith does not tolerate idle dreaming, neither are we to become mere busy-bodies, masters of trivia, bureaucrats with no time for contemplation, strategists with no moral principles, manipulators without mercy or concern. We are asked to judge everything in light of the Lord’s return “like a thief in the night.” Today’s texts ask us to be practical and diligent; to be men and women of vision and moral perspective; most of all to be prayerful and personally aware of the presence of our Lord Jesus.
Saint of the day – Saint Monica’s Story
The circumstances of Saint Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law, and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism.
Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine, is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy—” all flesh is evil”—and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted.
When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan.
In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, Saint Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her. Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.
She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter 387, Saint Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death.
Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of Saint Augustine, especially his Confessions.