First Sunday Of Advent, December 2, 2007

Isaiah 2: 1 - 5

Romans 13: 11 - 14

Matthew 24: 37 - 44

The Coming of the Son of Man

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of his coming in glory, which is the "parousia" in Greek. This term, in classical Greek writing, signifies a solemn coming (a joyful entrance) of the king into a city which hails him as a god. The time of the princes visit was considered a time of sacred days. Even a new era was spoken of, an era which opens on the occasion of the parousia. Big feasts were celebrated, debts forgiven, new coins struck, new buildings constructed It is in function of these customs that the New Testament chose to designate the glorious coming of the Lord at the end of time, his final coming as the Parousia.

In order to talk to his disciples about his coming, Jesus uses a parable of a flood, a midrash about the story of Noah. He establishes a tight correspondence between the first and the last days of the world. This yoking of the parousia and the flood stresses on one hand the unexpected and sudden aspect of the parousia: just as the deluge had surprised the men in the fields and in their daily occupations, so the Son of Man will come when no one is expecting him. On the other hand, it introduces the theme of universal judgment. The theme of uinversal judgment is linked inseparably to the Old Testament theme of the flood : the parousia will be the great eschatalogical sorting out from which no one will excape.

What was the error of Noahs contemporaries whose activities are described as those of anyones typical daily life? They led their lives without taking into account either God or his presence. Noah, on the contrary, understood his existence in relation to the presence of God. The point of the story is clear: the parousia will come in an unexpected way and will bring the judgment of all. Only the one, like Noah, who had lived by taking into account the presence of God and his coming will be saved. The one who forgets about God is headed towards destruction.

The two images that follow (that of two men and another of two women) describe people who live in solidarity with each other and resemble each other. The parousia will surprise the people at their daily occupations and break the bonds of their common destiny. Why is one saved and the other not? Because one is ready while the other is not. The uncertainty concerning the parousia, both the present moment and the future, call for vigilance. This vigilance is not an affair of calculating the time but of living in function of the coming event which is always a possibility.

Vigilance is not the fruit of our efforts. It is, first of all, a trusting faith like that of the people of Israel who await the arrival of happy days and peace with the certitude that they will be the gift of God.

So, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Be attentive watchmen who are prompt to recognize the sovereign closeness of God in their lives. Let neither routine nor facility, nor our laziness and torpor allow us to sleep to the point of extinguishing the flame of our love of life and the desire of living in his presence as we await his return.

—Sophie Ramond, R.A.