First Reading: 1 Cor. 1:1-9
Psalm: Ps. 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Gospel: Mt. 24:42-51
In today’s parable Jesus urges us to be alert. There’s urgency in the message Jesus has for the servant who takes advantage of his master’s absence to eat and drink with drunkards and to maltreat his fellow servants. The master will come when least expected. If he finds his servant living boisterously, unconcerned about his duties, the servant will merit severe punishment.
There’s also urgency in Jesus’ message for the responsible servant. We can find this urgency well exemplified in a very brief ritual that’s performed when a new Pope has been elected. It’s a solemn moment. The newly elected pontiff is seated on the papal throne. He’s surrounded by the college of cardinals. An attendant enters, carrying an unlit candle, and stands before the pope. He lights the candle and after a very brief moment blows it out. He then chants, addressing the pope, “Ecce Sancte Pater, sic transeat Gloria mundi.” (“Take a good look, Holy Father. This is what happens to the glory of this world.”)
The ritual reminds the pope that time is short, that he will soon be called by God to give an account of his stewardship. Time is precious. It’s not to be wasted. He must commit himself to the tasks the papacy imposes on him, he must get down quickly to accomplishing these tasks and do them well.
As Jesus puts it, the faithful, farsighted servant who is in charge of the master’s household, even in the master’s absence, will distribute food at the proper time to all in the house. His master will find this servant working upon his return home.