Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (24: 42-51) in which Jesus says, ‘Stay awake because you do not know the day when your master is coming’.

Fr Paul says Matthew is approaching the end of the fifth and last of his great discourses on the Kingdom of Heaven and this one is about the future of the Church. The keynote, which opens today’s reading, is ‘Stay awake’ or ‘Be alert’ – but alert or awake to what?

We need to understand that the first generation of Christians had an expectation that the Day of the Lord would happen sooner rather than later, that the Judgment of God would bring an end to the world as they knew it. Time passed and this did not happen and the expectancy of the people began to wane.

Fr Paul says we could ask ourselves, ‘Will it ever happen?’ Well, for each one of us the Day of the Lord is imminent, in that with every passing moment we are forming ourselves, and the Lord is forming us, in a way which will become startlingly and devastatingly clear at our death. So, we cannot afford to neglect the warning we hear at the beginning of this Gospel, ‘Stay awake!’