– Fr Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications Macau
One principle we should always keep in mind: the gospel is, by its nature, good news, the message of joy and hope. Let us recall the context in which today’s passage is given.
One day the disciples invite the Master to admire the magnificent building of the temple. Instead of sharing their justifiable pride, Jesus surprises them with a prophecy: “You see all these things? I assure you, not a stone will be left upon another here. All will be torn down” (Mt 24:2).
Amazed, the disciples ask him two questions: when will this happen and what are the warning signs? Instead of satisfying their curiosity, Jesus responds by introducing a teaching that is valid for people of all times: it is necessary to remain vigilant. To better clarify, he cites three examples:
The first is taken from a story in the Bible (Gen 6−9). In the days of Noah, there were two categories of people: some thought only to eat, drink and be merry. They were unprepared and perished. Others were vigilant, attentive to what might happen. They realized that the flood was approaching; they were saved and they began a new humanity (vv. 37-39).
As in the days of Noah many died, so also the Jews who will not recognize him as God’s messenger and not listen to his word, will perish in the catastrophe of the city. Those who have their eyes and hearts open to recognize and accept his message will be saved and will give birth to a new people.
The second is inspired by the activities that men and women do every day, working in the fields and preparing the flour to make bread. The deeds they do look identical: they engage in work, earn a living, eat, drink and marry. How they perform them is radically different. Some are careful, are led by God’s light and they are taken, or saved. Others are overwhelmed by the cares of this world. They do not keep in mind the judgments of God. They “are left”, meaning that they are not involved in the new reality of God’s kingdom.
The final conclusion takes up the theme of the passage and applies it to the disciples of every age: “So be alert, for the Son of Man will come at the hour you least expect.”
We know what it means to miss favorable opportunities. So many times we have had the experience. The more surprising and unexpected they are, then the easier we let them pass by..
Only the one who is vigilant knows how to recognize them and is saved here and now.