Faith, Fellowship and Fun

Matt 24:37-44
Matt. 24:37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
General comments The passage comprises several teachings of Jesus, all on the general theme of waiting. However, each teaching forms a unit on its own, so begin by identifying which section you want to meditate on.

Textual comments Verses 37 to 39 describe what happens ‘when the Son of Man comes’, the story of the Flood being the model. Make sure you get the precise point of the teaching. It is not that the people were bad or immoral – that is not the point Jesus is making. He is stressing only the suddenness and unexpectedness of the coming.
Verses 40 and 41 are another description of the coming but the point here is quite different: it is the indiscriminate way in which some are taken and some left. Be creative in interpreting the meaning of ‘taken’ and ‘left’, starting of course from your experience.
Verses 42 and 44 are two exhortations of Jesus; they are nearly identical although the metaphor in each is slightly different – ‘stay awake’ in vs. 42 and ‘stand ready’ in vs. 44. The stress is slightly different in each too, ‘you do not know’ in vs. 42 and ‘an hour you do not expect’ in vs. 44. In your meditation be faithful to the exact text.
Verse 43 is a parable which you should take on its own. Enter into the parable as it stands, in particular the metaphor of the burglar who breaks through the wall of the house. Your meditation will help you feel for this image of God’s unexpected coming.

MICHEL DE VERTEUIL - Lectio Divina on the Sunday Gospels
There is certainly no sign of Christmas in this reading, taken from near the end of Matthew’s gospel. Here Jesus is presented as giving his last sermon to his disciples before the events of Holy Week. The theme of his preaching is the idea that the Messiah will come again and people will be held accountable for their actions. Therefore the disciples are called upon to be always vigilant and aware that accepting Jesus is not just a once off decision but a constant striving in to live the way he wants us to. This is an important theme in the gospel of Matthew where there is an insistence on the need for faith to express itself in a genuine attempt to do God’s will in our lives. What that means is shown by Jesus who throughout his public life lived a “God with us” a name given to him at the time of his birth (Matthew 1:23). Here is the connection with Advent. This season begins with a reflection on the future and where we are heading. It is an appeal for repentance, a true change of heart that will allow us to recognise how and where God is at work and to respond to him the challenges of every day.

SEAN GOAN - LET THE READER UNDERSTAND
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
The liturgical cycle helps us not only by telling once more the story of salvation but also by underlining
movements of the heart appropriate for each season. Thus, Lent invites us to conversion and Easter promotes joy in believing. What of Advent? The season encourages us and takes us back to our original longing and quest which brought us to God in the first place. Especially in the readings from the prophets, the lectionary explores again that restlessness of heart and helps us name our desire for the One who alone fills our hearts with his peace “which surpasses all understanding.”

BRIEF COMMENTARY
For our passage, Matthew may have in mind catastrophes which preceded the Jewish revolt of 66-70, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem
Verse 38 The point of comparison is the un-mindfulness of Noah’s contemporaries.

PRAYER
Keep your household watchful and aware of the hour in which we live.
Hasten the advent of that day when the sounds of war will be forever stilled, the darkness of evil
scattered and all your children gathered into one.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near; you Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ever and ever Amen.

KIERAN O’MAHONY OSA - www.tarsus.ie

POINTERS FOR PRAYER

  1. The ‘coming of the Son of Man’ can be applied to the end of the world, to the moment of death, or to any moment of grace. We are not given advance notice as to when any of these will happen, so the message is to be alert and ready. When have you found that your alertness meant that you were able to receive an unexpected grace (e.g. take an opportunity which presented itself, or respond to a hint from another person that you might easily have missed, etc.)
  2. One of the enemies of alert living is constant busyness. Have you ever found that being caught up in your own agenda makes you less sensitive to what is happening around you? Recall times when you paused in your relentless busyness and were rewarded by a significant interchange with another person, a moment of grace.
  3. You probably know the difference between being ready for a visitor and the unannounced caller who catches you unprepared. Let the memory of the discomfort of being caught off guard spur you on to a constant readiness for the coming of the Lord.

JOHN BYRNE OSA - Intercom
Jesus does not answer the questions put to him about when he will return except to say Keep Awake. Instead of worrying about questions that we cannot possibly know the answer to, we might remember that what is important is how we are living now, today, in the present moment. Are we living aware of Christ present here and now in each person and in all of creation? Awakening to the miracle of universal love is a second coming or reawakening we can get on board with. Advent is a very special time, a liminal space where we are full of expectant hope. It is an opportunity to take stock and see what is truly important; then we can experience the true joy which the season offers.
Advent is often experienced as an in-between space. Can you relate to periods of time like this in your own life? What is it like waiting on the threshold between old and new?
Today’s gospel urges us to
keep awake. This Advent, how might you embrace this call, to live with greater awareness, waiting and watching for Christ’s presence in the world around you?

TRÍONA DOHERTY & JANE MELLETT —Go Deeper
One day the dramatic story of humankind will end, as life inevitably ends for each one of us. The Gospels mention a discourse of Jesus on the end of all things, and they always highlight his warning to be watchful, to be alert, to stay awake. The first generations of Christians gave great importance to this watchfulness.
As the end of the world did not come as quickly as some expected, they saw the risk of slowly forgetting Jesus and did not want him to find them asleep one day.
Since then many centuries have passed. How do Christians live today? Are we awake or have we slowly gone to sleep? Are we deeply attracted to Jesus or are we distracted by all sorts of side issues? Do we follow him or have we learned to live like the rest of the world?
To watch is first and foremost to awaken from unawareness. We live an illusion of being Christian, when in fact, quite often our interests, attitudes and way of living are not those of Jesus. This illusion shields us from seeking our personal conversion and that of the church. Without awakening, we will continue deceiving ourselves.
To watch is to live with the awareness of reality; to listen to the groaning of those who suffer; to know the love of God for life; to live more in touch with his coming into our lives, into our society, into this world of ours. Without this kind of sensitivity it is not possible to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

JOSÉ A. PAGOLA