"As in the days of Noah…"
As we approach the end of our liturgical year, the Church calls on us to take a moment from our busyness to reflect on the end times. This Gospel of Luke is one of those end time proclamations.
The message is simple. Be ready. Before Christ returns, there will be no clear-cut warning that signals the end. Rather it will be "as in the days of Noah" when people were busy and pre-occupied with their ordinary activities. Then the flood struck and the doors to the boat were closed tight. They missed the boat.
It will be "as in the days of Lot" when it was business as usual, the status quo. People were busy building and farming and cooking and too distracted to be concerned about eternal matters. Then, suddenly, fire and sulfur rained down on Sodom. Lot and his family escaped, all except Lot’s wife, who died looking back on the attachments she thought would give her security. Be ready.
In last Sunday’s gospel parable, the five wise virgins could no more loan out their readiness and faith, than they could their lamp oil. Similarly, in this gospel, those who live and eat and sleep side-by-side with others cannot deliver their brother or sister. Some will be left behind.
We live in the meantime, the in-between time, called to be ready for the end time. Today’s gospel can seem unsettling. It gives us stern warning that there can be no discharging our responsibilities by proxy; no clutching of false security. But this gospel also offers good news: We have hope in the boat built with readiness. Be ready. Don’t miss the boat.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.