01.12.2019 — Watching and Listening

1st Sunday of Advent, – 01st December 2019 — Gospel: Mt 24,37-44

Watching and Listening

The theme of vigilance and preparedness for the coming of the “Son of Man” is taken up in the three parables of the Gospel: the generation of Noah (Past), two pairs of workers (Present), and the thief in the night (future). They illustrate the various responsibilities each of us have, as well as the waiting which we cannot avoid, and the certainty that Jesus will make his presence known to us if we are attentive. There is nothing wrong with the behaviour of the people at the time of Noah. The problem with the flood-generation was that it was immersed in ordinary, everyday pursuits that it was blind to the imminent disaster of the flood. In other words, they had no concern for what is fundamental, namely, their relationship with God. Faced with the collapse of his world, Noah listened to God’s word and built an ark. Living in the presence of God, he rose above the surrounding chaos, as a beacon of light in the darkness. Jesus wants his disciples to be as vigilant and obedient as Noah was.

The second parable stresses that the final judgment will bring to light distinctions between persons who are lying hidden in this age. The two persons working will look alike to the human eye. But at the Parousia one will be “taken” into the kingdom while the other will be “left” to reprobation. The parable does not state the grounds for the distinction, but the context indicates that vigilance or lack thereof is the reason. The reason for this vigilance is the “Lord’s coming”.  The third parable points to the ignorance of the date of the Parousia. Only protection against theft is watching throughout the night. The symbol of the thief, used to express the sudden, unexpected “break-in” of the Parousia, is found in 1 Thess 5,2-4 (the thief = the day of the Lord); 2 Pet 3,10 (the thief = the day); Rev 3,3 (the thief = Jesus); Rev 16,15 (the thief = Jesus). Jesus is asking us to be present in the real circumstances of our life and to respond as he responded: in faith, hope and love.

As everyday experience teaches us, vigilance is necessary in every moment of our life. We do not know when we end our existence in this ‘age’ and face eternity. At the moment of death, our lives will be revealed in their true light. It is then that the “Son of Man” will be present to each of us. It is then that we will see what meaning our life has had and how we really relate to God. Since we cannot predict this moment we must always be vigilant. To be vigilant means, watching for Jesus presence and listening to his word.