1 Sept 23 – Friday of Week 21
1 Sept 23 – Friday of Week 21
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
Pope Francis has established 1 September as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, encouraging the Catholic community around the world to pray for our common home. The day is inspired by Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical Laudato Si’, which calls on “every person living on this planet” to care for our shared Earth.
The theme for 2023 is “Let Justice and Peace Flow”, inspired by the words of the prophet Amos: “Let justice flow on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
In his message for the World Day of Prayer 2023, Pope Francis invites us to “the renewal of our relationship with creation so that we no longer see it as an object to be exploited but cherish it instead as a sacred gift from our Creator.”
As well as transforming our own hearts and lifestyles, the Holy Father calls us to seek to transform public policies and to “raise our voices to halt this injustice towards the poor and towards our children, who will bear the worst effects of climate change.”
The Pope also stresses the importance of synodality with the hope that “in this Season of Creation, as followers of Christ on our shared synodal journey, let us live, work and pray that our common home will teem with life once again.”
Link to MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION
1st Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Being ready for the Lord’s coming
Brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honour, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Therefore whoever rejects this rejects not human authority but God, who also gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Responsorial: Psalm 96:1-2, 5-6, 10-12
R./: Let the just rejoice in the Lord
The Lord is king, let earth rejoice,
the many coastlands be glad.
Cloud and darkness are his raiment;
his throne, justice and right. (R./)
The mountains melt like wax
before the Lord of all the earth.
The skies proclaim his justice;
all peoples see his glory. (R./)
The Lord loves those who hate evil:
he guards the souls of his saints;
he sets them free from the wicked. (R./)
Light shines forth for the just
and joy for the upright of heart.
Rejoice, you just, in the Lord;
give glory to his holy name. (R./)
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13
Being ready, as seen in the wise and foolish bridesmaids
Jesus said to his disciples, “The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do no know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Reminder of the last things
From St Paul declared that if anyone was unwilling to work, he should not be fed. He also warns against sexual aberrations and rejects the excuse that for a spiritual person bodily actions of no consequence.
Can we be assured of salvation? Only five bridesmaids were there to welcome the bridal party. The others were told, “I do not know you.” The interpretation of this parable developed with time. Jesus warns that salvation is not guaranteed by observance of law and tradition. This was in continuity with Old Testament prophets up to John the Baptist, who bluntly corrected those who thought salvation was assured because Abraham was their father, “God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” This was not saying anything new, but giving greater urgency to an old message.
St Matthew’s Christian community faced the question of when to expect the second coming of Jesus. The moral he quoted from Jesus was, “Keep awake, for the time is short.” Being baptised did not in itself guarantee our being ready to welcome the Lord. As we read this, we sense the pathos and tragedy of the sleeping bridesmaids. They did nothing seriously wrong, but simply nodded off in the weariness of waiting. Do not to forget the essential, but keep watch, for we know not the day nor the hour.
Alert to the grace of God
The bridegroom who came late to his own wedding banquet found only half of the bridesmaids still there, with torches lit, to escort him indoors. Through the long hours of waiting, when nothing was happening and who knew when he would arrive, they kept at their post. After this parable, Jesus turned to his disciples and said to them, ‘Stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’ We need to be with torches lit, especially during those times when he seems most absent and the time hangs heavy.
When called to be his followers, it is for the long haul. Our lamps must burn right to the very end, through good times and bad times. Earlier, he had called his followers the light of the world and urged them to let their light shine so that others might give glory to God for them. Keeping our lamps burning, letting our light shine, involves doing what the Lord wants us to do, for as long as we are able. Then that when he comes he will find us at our post, ready to welcome him.