37 “The coming of the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah.
38 In the days before the flood people ate and drank, men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat;
39 yet they did not realise what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes.
40 At that time two men will be working in a field: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind.
41 Two women will be at a mill grinding meal: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind.
42 Be on your guard, then, because you do not know what day your Lord will come.
43 If the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house.
44 So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him.”
Other readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122:1-2, 4-9; Romans 13:11-14
The first Sunday of Advent marks not only the preparation for Christmas and the birth of Jesus but also the beginning of the liturgical year. And the Church chooses to open the year with a big wake-up call: be ready, don’t let the world distract you from your real purpose.
Matthew – our Gospel writer for the better part of the coming year – portrays end-time events using graphic language and striking images. Apocalyptic teaching, as this is known, is usually given in harsh times when people are suffering. The three synoptic Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke, each give this type of teaching. We can also read it in much greater depth in the challenging book of prophecy for the end times, the Book of Revelation.
In today’s reading Jesus preaches and gives a warning he has given several times as he prepares to return to Jerusalem for his Passion. He again uses powerful images to highlight the unexpected nature of the end times.
He uses three different images to paint the picture of how suddenly the end will come. It will come at a time when people are not expecting it, without any warning, like a flood sweeping all but a few away.
But here Jesus also tells us of the gathering together of the faithful by the “Son of Man”, a title first used in the Old Testament book of Daniel and adopted by Jesus, the Messiah.
How do you react to Jesus’s teaching that he might return at any time?
Consider the phrase “they didn’t realise what was happening”. Why not? Does this apply to people today? How might we respond to this?
Think about the comparison to the flood that came in Noah’s day. What can we learn from this?
God makes the final choice to take one person and not another – even if outwardly they appear the same. What differences might there be?
What can we learn from Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:11-14?
Prayerfully consider your relationship with the Lord. How ready are you for Jesus’s return? Ask the Lord to show you any changes you might need to make.
Pray for the Lord to reveal himself to those who do not know him yet.
Read the prophecy in Isaiah 2:1-5. Spend some time reflecting on these phrases:
“He will teach us what he wants us to do; we will walk in the paths he has chosen.”
“… let us walk in the light which the Lord gives us!”
Consider too these words from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being – spirit, soul and body – free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you will do it, because he is faithful.”
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