Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gospel for Nov 12, Memorial: St Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr

Friday, 32nd Week In Ordinary Time

Gospel: Luke 17:26-37

The Day of the Son of Man (Continuation)
(Jesus said to His disciples,) [26] "As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. [27] They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. [28] Likewise as it was in the days of Lot--they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, [29] but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and brimstone rained from Heaven and destroyed them all--[30] so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. [31] On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. [32] Remember Lot's wife. [33] Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. [34] I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. [35] There will be two women grinding together; one will be taken and the other left." [37] And they said to Him, "Where Lord?" He said to them, "Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."

23-36. These words of our Lord are a prophecy about the last coming of the Son of Man. We should remember that prophecy often involves events on different levels, many symbols, a terminology of its own; the "chiaroscuro" which they create gives us insight into future events, but the concrete details only become clear when the events actually occur. Our Lord's last coming will be something sudden and unexpected; it will catch many people unprepared. Jesus illustrates this by giving examples from sacred history: as in the time of Noah (cf. Genesis 6:9-19:7) and that of Lot (cf. Genesis 18:16-19:27) divine judgment will be visited on men without warning.

However, it is useful to recall here that everyone will find himself before the divine Judge immediately when he dies, at the Particular Judgment. Thus Jesus' teaching has also a present urgency about it: HERE AND NOW a disciple should scrutinize his own conduct, for the Lord can call him when he least expects.

33. "Will preserve it": what the Greek word literally means is "will engender (his life)", that is to say, "will give true life to the soul". Thus our Lord seems to mean the following: he who wants to save his life at all costs, making it his basic value, will lose eternal life; whereas he who is ready to lose his earthly life--that is, to resist even to death the enemies of God and of his soul--will obtain eternal happiness through this struggle. In content this passage is almost identical with Luke 9:24.

36. In the Vulgate this verse reads: "Una assumetur, et altera relinquetur. Duo in agro; unus assumetur, et alter relinquetur" ("One will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left"). These words seem to be an addition to Luke, taken from Matthew 24:40; they do not appear in the better Greek manuscripts, which is why the New Vulgate omits them.

37. "Where the body is, there the eagles will gather": the Greek text uses a word which could mean either eagle or vulture. In any event the proverb indicates the speed with which birds of prey swoop down on their victims--apparently referring to the sudden, unexpected way the Second Coming or Last Judgment will happen. Sacred Scripture also deals with this subject in other passages: "But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Once more Jesus is exhorting us to be watchful: we should never neglect the most important thing in life--eternal salvation. "All that, which worries you for the moment, is of relative importance. What is of absolute importance is that you be happy, that you be saved" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 297). So curious are the Pharisees and the disciples about the time and place of the Last Coming that they are distracted from Jesus' main point; the same thing happens to us: for example, we can spend a lot of time pondering the circumstances of the deaths of people we know, and fail to grasp the warning these deaths contain--that this life is going to end one way or another and that after it we too will meet God.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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