As we enter into the final few weeks of the Liturgical Year, we encounter readings containing eschatological (end times) leanings and they can often be confusing. Today’s Gospel highlights this point for us. Scripture commentaries will say that not every text should be taken literally yet, we have much to reflect upon in the context of our lives today.
Jesus references Noah and the flood of destruction, “As it was in the days” similarly mentioning the destruction of Sodom in the time of Lot; we read the same phrase, “As it was…..” used as a hinge to this statement, the connection we are invited to hear today “so it will be in the days of the Son of Man” is added. So the reader hears the warning but what exactly does it mean? Luke is generally understood to have written to a Gentile Christian community who would not be familiar with Hebrew Scriptures, Traditions or Laws. Neither would they have been touched by the Roman Empire’s crushing of the Jewish Revolt circa 70 A.D. and the subsequent destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the same way as a Jewish Christian community. Luke’s point here is one of readiness—living out their lives with Christ as the model. Unlike the people of Noah or Lot’s time who seemed to be living without any concern for the future, Luke is impressing upon the community that caught unawares “as in the days of...” one might miss the preparation for “ the days of the Son of Man.”
The lesson for us today is no different really; one might get quite anxious listening to the news with tales of doom and gloom. If you think about it, we have enemies all over the world, it seems hard to believe that persecution still exists today and we have groups like ISIS, who pledge daily to “bring the war to us”. Then we have natural disasters and disease, as well as life’s daily challenges. Embedded in all of this we are invited to “watch and be ready” as we hold fast to our faith and trust in what can be confusing times.
It is really very simple—Luke is reminding us that we must not be fearful as long as we are mindfully living out Jesus’ teachings. We need to avoid being focused on our possessions, while not actually bad, they can distract us and even block us from coming to know the one true God. In the first reading, we are invited to stop long enough to see God in created things and feel a deep sense of wonder for the Potter’s works; to “Taste and See the goodness of the Lord” for ourselves and to trust that the promises made by Jesus are always enough for us.
In His call to” feed the hungry, clothe the naked….” we celebrate the feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini who exemplified living out her call in response to God initiative by her missionary work.
May we search and quickly find our Lord, daily. May we be holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.