The strange fate of Ukraine

The Feast of Saint Augustine

Today’s Gospel (Mt. 24: 42-51) in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite comes at the time of year when we in the northern hemisphere are drunk and sleepy with summer.  The air has been warm and the trees have been green for a long time now; the fields are ripe for the harvest and the fruit is being plucked from the tree.  The days are growing shorter but no one really notices yet because the gloom of winter is long forgotten.  And the Liturgical calendar is roughly at the midpoint of the long march of the second section of Ordinary Time between the glory of Pentecost and the end of the year and the Advent renewal, so the Church gives us this warning:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.  Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.  So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come.

Who then is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.  Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

The Son of Man comes to us in many ways.  He will come in glory at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, He will come for each of us individually when our time on this earth runs out, and as the Lord of history He comes to judge cities, nations, and civilizations.  Sometimes these decay at a slow rate and just peter out but more often the Lord comes as a thief in the night when people are sleepy and/or drunk on their own prosperity.

Witness the strange fate of Ukraine.  A year ago the citizens of Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, and the surrounding towns and villages would all probably go out drinking together on a Saturday night and not think a thing of it.  Today they are slaughtering each other.  These once prosperous European cities are now under siege, being shelled, and being emptied out.  They have become the pawn of world powers seeking to expand their influence in the brutal game of international politics.

As our Lord told Peter, James, and John before He entered Garden of Olives at Gethsemane: Vigilate, et orate!  Keep watch and pray, and above all stay awake because the world can change in a minute!  None of us know the hour or the day for us or for the world we live in.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

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