“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24: 37-44, RSV).
In the Catholic Church, Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. What is striking is that the new year begins with the end, i.e. the second coming of Christ. It is wise to begin with the end. At the start of their day (or even of the week), it is normal for people to check the weather forecast. This is one of the most important decisions of the day. It is certainly one of the important decisions of everyday life. It helps to plan your day, your trip, what to wear, what not to wear, which precautions to take, and so forth. Today, with improved information technology, it usual for people to sign up for weather alerts! Weather alerts are not meant to scare. They are meant to provide useful information to help people stay safe.
As God often does, he speaks deep mysteries to us using everyday experience of life. For example, the Lord said: ““From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates” (Matt 24:32-33). Jesus also references the famous flood story recorded in the book of Genesis: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man” (Luke 24:37-39; cf. 6:9-7:24). It is reasonable to believe that the flood did not occur suddenly without any prior warning. But, distracted by the matters of life, the people then failed to notice the change in the weather and were overrun by events.
Using a biblical story familiar to his audience, Jesus predicts that his coming could very well be like the days of Noah. His own prediction about the end is like a weather alert. He wants people to be as attentive to his coming as they are to the weather. He wants people to plan for his coming as they plan for the weather. Like the weather, the events surrounding his coming are dynamic. It is important to always plan ahead and anticipate change. Prophecies are, in part, meant to help people stay safe. Jesus’ prophecy about the end is not meant to scare. It is meant to alert us to the “spiritual weather.”
In Isaiah 2:1-5, the prophet says that people shall stream to the mountain of the Lord where they would find peace, safety, and reconciliation. The best way to prepare for the coming of the Lord is to respond to the invitation to go to God’s house. It is an invitation to seek cover, to seek the friendship of God, and be counted among the family of God.
This Advent, the Lord renews the invitation to seek refuge in the shelter of the Most High. It is also the time to invite a friend to seek the Lord, to come to God’s house with you. They are free to say yes or no. But the invitation must be given. Like the Psalmist, let rejoice at the invitation to come and worship the Lord: “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” (Psalm 122:1).
Invitation to pray:
Jesus, I am glad that you have invited me to your house. I bless and thank you for counting me among your family. Cleanse me from my sins. Anoint me with your Holy Spirit. And help me to stay awake, prepared for your coming. Amen