Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51)
“The Ballad of Father Gilligan” by poet Y.B. Yeats tells the story of a faithful country curate. The priest has grown weary from anointing many parishioners before they die. When he is called late at night to anoint yet another, he prays a moment before leaving and falls into a slumber. Awakening in the morning, he rushes to the dying man’s house to discover that he is too late. The man’s widow then tells the priest that her husband died happy to have been visited by the priest. Evidently, God had taken pity on the curate by sending an angel in his place to anoint the dying man. The priest can be compared to the faithful and prudent servant that Jesus mentions in today’s gospel.
The passage applies especially to Church leaders. Put in charge of God’s household, they are expected to serve faithfully and well. If they carry out their duties, they will receive a blessing. If they are negligent or abusive, however, they will be punished very severely.
The parable also applies to parents who head families and, indeed, to all of us with responsibility for others. Christ demands that we faithfully discharge our duties. Failing to do so will result in disaster. Caring for those in our charge, on the other hand, will find us in God’s favor.