The Gospel according to Luke (Luke 17:26-27)
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, someone who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise one in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of sacred Scripture. Please open my mind and heart to receive your word with humility and gratitude. Increase my faith, hope, and love so that your word may bear fruit in my daily life.
Encountering Christ: As we enter into the final weeks of the liturgical year, we begin to turn our attention to the final coming of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the example of Noah and Lot. In both of their stories, people were eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building up, until the very day that the floods came to destroy the earth at the time of Noah and fire rained down from the sky at the time of Lot. Both Noah and Lot were saved, but many others alive at that time met with sudden and unexpected destruction.
Jesus says that the “days of the Son of Man” will be similar to these previous two events. At an unexpected time, Jesus will return to earth, and the Final Judgment will ensue. So His message is clear: Be ready at all times.
Though we are familiar with this teaching of our Lord, spoken many times and in various ways in the Gospels, many people do not heed the message. It is easy to believe that you always have tomorrow to change, and so you give into temptation today. And then tomorrow comes, and the temptation is once again embraced with the thought that you will work on it tomorrow, and henceforth. We can easily go about perpetuating our sins and embracing our temptations while we have the ongoing good intention of changing tomorrow. This is a mistake for two reasons.
First of all, it always remains a possibility that our Lord will indeed come today and that today truly will be the end of the world. Or, it always remains a distinct possibility that your life will come to an end today, suddenly and unexpectedly. If that were to happen, would you be fully ready to stand before the judgment seat of Christ? Most people would not, at least not fully ready. Thus, this should be motivation enough to work tirelessly today to be ready now and every moment hereafter.
But we should also see this prophecy of our Lord as applying to every present moment of every day. Jesus is always coming to us, suddenly and without warning, inviting us to serve Him by grace. This Gospel passage states that “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” That applies to the end of our lives and to the end of the world, but it also applies to every present moment of every day. If we continually seek to lose our lives, meaning, to choose the Heavenly realities over the temporal earthly indulgences we are daily tempted with, then we will also daily experience the grace of salvation, here and now, in every present moment of our lives.
Closing Prayer: Jesus, you come to your Church and to me in countless ways. I encounter you in Scripture, the Eucharist, Confession, prayer, and ultimately in all my daily experiences—both pleasant and challenging. Help me to see things as you see them, to value them as you value them. Give me the light and the strength to fulfill your will in all things—both now and at the end of my life.
Action: Reflect, today, upon whether or not you regularly seek to lose your life for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Do you continually choose grace, mercy, Heaven, obedience, love, self-sacrifice, compassion, forgiveness and the like, every moment of every day of your life? If so, then our Lord will continually bestow the gift of His saving grace upon you here and now, preparing you for the ultimate moment of judgment. If not, then you will be more like the people of Noah’s and Lot’s time who met with sudden destruction when they least expected it. Live for God now, today, in this moment, and you will be eternally grateful you did.