Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time


But his meaning is like this: If ordinary persons knew when they were going to die, they would surely be striving earnestly at that hour. In order therefore that they may strive, not at that hour only, he does not tell them the hour or day. He wants to keep them on their toes looking for it, that they may be always striving. This is why he made the end of each person’s life so uncertain.1

Hilary of Poitiers:

To teach us that our ignorance of the date of his return (which his silence has kept hidden from everyone) is not without its usefulness, Christ warns us to keep all his commandments. We should also be occupied with constant prayer in order to guard against the coming of the thief. For the thief is the devil who seeks to invade our bodily homes with the darts of his thoughts and allurements in order to ruin us while we are sleepy and careless. It is good therefore that we be prepared. Our ignorance of the day of Christ’s return should provoke us to be careful as we eagerly await his coming. 2

Incomplete Work on Matthew:

Does the soul not know when the thief has gained access through one of these entrances? Indeed, it does not know until it has been led into sin. The soul must be vigilant, therefore, and close all its ports of entry. The mouth should be occupied with holy speech, the ears with pious sounds; the eyes with a vision of the wondrous works of God; and the mind with heavenly thoughts. It is not sufficient merely to refrain from speaking, hearing, seeing or thinking evil things. For to do that is only to block the access of good spirits along with the bad. Whoever renounces evil but fails to take up the good is said to have left the gates to his soul open. The enemy enters easily when he finds them vacant. It is necessary therefore that the portals to the soul of the just not only be free of evil but also be fully occupied with the good, lest evil find a way to gain access. 3


But it is rare for faithfulness and wisdom to coincide in one person to enable him to “give his fellow servants their food at the proper time.” He needs wisdom to give food to the needy “at the proper time” and faith to refrain from keeping the food for himself in time of need.4


Everyone should make full use of what he has been given for the common advantage of all. If you possess power or wealth or wisdom, do not use it to hurt your fellow servants. If you do, it will be to your own ruin. Since sins come from foolishness, he requires both wisdom and fidelity. One is faithful who has been a good steward of his Lord’s goods, not stealing from the Lord, not spending without aim or fruit. One is wise who knows how to dispense the things given him in a fitting way. Indeed, we have need of both these things together, faithfulness and wisdom, and these in conjunction. We are called to exercise our stewardship in a fitting manner, spending carefully. And we must not steal from the Lord. If one of these is lacking, the other is halted. There would be great blame if one were to waste the Lord’s goods, spend freely the resources we have been given, even if we never stole anything at all. Similarly there would be heavy charges to make against one who spent his Lord’s goods well but occasionally stole something for himself. 5

Cyril of Alexandria:

This teaching is directed against the rulers who are leading a luxurious and leisurely lifestyle. He calls the negligent teacher a wicked and evil servant because he takes advantage of the judge’s absence and believes he will not be observed because of the judge’s forbearance. So he beats harshly those over whom he holds power and associates with those who are in love with the flesh. They sin both because the judge is not present and because they don’t think judgment will ever arrive. By wounding some of them, he points out those who are disabled in soul because of the luxury of their exalted positions. Just as the apostle says, “When you sin against your brothers in this way [you] wound their weak conscience.” Therefore he threatens to introduce the most severe punishments to those living self-indulgently.…

Those who pretend to understand the principles of the good life are not thinking as they should but are only clothing themselves in the appearance of virtue. They will be cut into pieces on that fearful day of judgment. This is a judgment from the Spirit and results in a perpetual alienation.… Grace will be cut off from all the pollution of his soul, and his part will be reckoned with the hypocrites. Jesus calls hypocrites those who are cut into pieces and yet continue to teach others the way to live. They succeed only in making things worse for those learning the life of discipleship. Further, Jesus teaches that those who have not carried out faithfully the ministry given to them in this present life from the Lord will not receive another from him.… For the cutting Jesus reveals is not a bodily one but the stripping of their adoption as sons from the Spirit. Moreover, they are punished because they lived a life of derision. They will gnash their teeth when they consider the reason for their pain and the exceedingly severe character of their punishment. Fragment 277.


  1. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 77.2-3
  2. On Matthew 26.6.
  3. Homily 51.
  4. Commentary on Matthew 61.
  5. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 77.3.
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