Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(I Thessalonians 3:7-13; Matthew 24:42-51)
We think of the “good thief” as the bandit who was crucified with Christ and asked his help. But the gospels present another “good thief” who more authentically deserves the name. He is the thief Jesus mentions in today’s passage. Actually, he is Jesus himself.
Jesus’ extravagant use of parables allows him to call himself a “thief” to make a point. Like a thief he will return to his people at an unexpected time. They, therefore, have to prepare themselves for his coming by being constantly alert. This does not mean that they stand around or even that they polish the candlesticks. No, being alert or “staying awake” means that that they look for Jesus in the needy.
Who are the needy and how might we help them? Many live in the parts of town where we seldom find ourselves. But they are really everywhere. They are the lonely whom we might engage for a few minutes in conversation. They are friends deluged with work to whom we might offer a hand for half an hour. They are the sick, the uneducated, and the aged whom we might spend a few hours a week visiting in hospital, schools, or nursing homes.