Archive for category Readiness/Vigilance
“As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.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” (Lk 17:27-28)
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; it 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.
If you knew that an impending disaster, such as a flood or hurricaine, was about to destroy your home and threaten your life, wouldn’t you make preparation to escape and find refuge in a safe place? Jesus warned his followers to avert spirtual disaster and to not be caught off-guard when the “day of judgment” would strike the earth and its inhabitants. The “Day of the Lord” was understood in the Old Testament as the time when God would manifest his power and glory, and overthrow his enemies. Isaiah describes it as a day when God will bring down the proud and the arrogant who flaunt his law (Isaiah 2:11). That day will be darkness, gloom, disaster, and desolation for the earth when “God will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity” (Isaiah 13:6-11). The prophet Amos declared that the “Day” meant judgment for the house of Israel as well, and not just the other nations who followed other gods (Amos 5:18-20). The prophet Joel proclaimed that at this “Day” those who truly repented would be saved, while those who remained enemies of God, whether Jew or Gentile, would be punished (see Joel 2).
Jesus compares the separation of the good from the evil on the Day of judgement at the end of the age with the judgment and separation that took place in the days of Noah, when God saw that the inhabitants of the world had been filled with every imaginable evil (Genesis 6:5), with corruption and violence spreading everywhere (Genesis 6:11-13). In Noah’s day, God swept away in the great flood all who chose the way of evil rather than good. God intended to start over again with a people who would choose to do good by obeying him. Noah and his family alone were spared this punishment because they remained faithful to God. They heeded his warning to build an ark to escape the destructive force of the impending flood. [See the book of Genesis, chapters 6-8, for the account of Noah’s ark and the great flood.] Noah’s ark has stood as a beacon of hope to all who would seek refuge in God and follow in his way of justice and holiness.
God promised Abraham, “I will not destroy Sodom if there are ten good people in it. But ten good people could not be found” (Genesis 18:32 ). The Lord rained burning sulfur on the sin cities of Sodom and Gommorah and destroyed them. Abraham saw smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a huge furnace. (see Genesis 19:24-25, 28)
Some biblical scholars believe that an earthquake (common to the area) touched off the fiery holocaust. Words like “burning sulfur” and “smoke “suggest that coal and petroleum deposits (still found in the area) exploded during the earthquake, igniting the infernal described. Regardless of how it happened, the point is clear: Sodom and Gommorah met with a terrible fate that was interpretted as God’s judgment upon the two cities.
What point does the story of Sodom and Gommorah make? “I shall tell you a secret, my friend. Don’t wait for the last judgment; it is taking place every day” (Albert Camus).
Jesus makes clear to his disciples that the Father has given him all authority to execute judgments on the earth “because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27). The “Son of man” is a Messianic title for God’s anointed one who will destroy God’s enemies and establish an everlasting kingdom of righteousness and peace. The “Day of the Lord” points to the final judgment of all the living as well as all the dead who dwelt upon the earth. The “Son of man” is the one who is given supreme authority to judge and execute justice on the earth. Jesus comes the first time to lay down his life as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world. He promises to return again at the “end of the age” as King and Judge both of the living and the dead. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both Christians and non-believers as well.
So be ready. Be prepared. Be watchful.
Watch your THOUGHTS; They become WORDS.
Watch your WORDS; They become ACTIONS.
Watch your ACTIONS; They become HABITS.
Watch your HABITS; They become CHARACTER.
Watch your CHARACTER; It becomes your DESTINY.
– Frank Outlaw
Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, I place all my hope in you because you have redeemed the world by your death on the cross and by your victory over the grave. Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven that I may live each day in joyful anticipation of your return in glory.”
In Palestine during Jesus’ time, the wedding took place in two stages. The first is betrothal. This was held at the residence of the father of the bride, where the bridegroom presented the marriage contract and bride price to the father and the bride. During this stage the bride remained in her father’s house for almost a year and there is no sexual contact between them until the second part of the wedding when the groom would come for her to bring her home with him. This procession of the wedding party to the house of the groom would signal the beginning of the feasting.
This is the context of the gospel story when the five young, unmarried woman, around twelve years old at the bridegroom’s house, who went out with their lamps to welcome bridegroom and the bride and the whole procession and to lighten their path, were considered wise virgins. While the other five who were not ready were considered foolish virgins. Here the focus is not the bride but the virgins and their lamps.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins warns us against unreadiness and promises blessings to the watchful, vigilant and ready. While this short parable does not specifically mention Christ’s return, that is its focus. Those who are ready will be greatly rewarded, and those who are not ready will suffer a great loss of eternal life.
No one knows neither the day nor the hour (see Mt 25:13) when Jesus will return at the end of time as King and Judge both of the living and the dead. And that will be final, definite and absolute. There will be no “last two minutes” as in Basketball. There will be no further time for preparation. There will be no more last chances. Because of this, there are those who will be ready, and those who will not be. The time for preparation is now. Now is the time to procure “oil of good deed.” For Matthew, light is equated with good deeds that are visible to others and that lead to the praise of the heavenly Father (Mt 7:16). “Let your light shine before men so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven (Mt. 5:16). “God will not forget your work and the love you have shown him by your service to his holy people. Our desire is that each of you show the same zeal till the end, fully assured of that for which you hope” (Hebrews 6:10).
I, therefore, exhort you with this words of St. John of God: “Labour without stopping; do all the good works you can while you still have the time.”