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The unknown day and hour

Gospel Reading: Mt 24:37-44
Jesus said to his disciples: “For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

There is a story about a clock that was very anxious about the future, its mind always looking forward. It ticked twice every second, 120 times a minute, 7,200 an hour, 172,800 a day, and 63,000,000 a year. That would be 630,000,000 ticks in ten years! At the thought, the clock collapsed due to nervous exhaustion. But when it came to its senses, the clock realized that it was silly to tick twice every second – once was enough. It only needed to act one at a time. As the Church begins a new liturgical year with Advent, the word of God directs us to the importance of the “now” in contrast with the past and the future. Today matters, and we must see the value of redefining the past and defining the future by identifying ourselves with the present. We must live our days one day at a time. In the Gospel, Jesus emphasizes the significance of our “today,” of our now. He compares his contemporaries with those who lived in Noah’s days. Those who perished in the Great Flood wasted their today in petty and passing pleasures.

They became careless with the things of God and failed to work for their salvation. Jesus does not want us to suffer the same fate. He calls us to watchfulness: “Stay awake!” The summons to be watchful, to be “ready” or “prepared” (Hebrew, hetoimoi), is also a call to be alert, to be attentive – every second, every minute, one at a time – to God’s will for us today. Besides being watchful, the apostle Paul urges us to “put on the armor of light” (v 12). It means that the grace we received in Baptism must bear fruit in our conscious life. This is the path towards the “days to come” that Isaiah prophesied in the First Reading. The prophet saw the coming of a new and peaceful order in the future, and this is only possible if we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v 14) today. The early Christians in Paul’s time, being under the influence of the prevailing Hellenistic culture, saw their today not as a meaningless, sequential time (chronos) but as time (kairos) to manifest their being Christians in word and deed. To manifest the Christian faith is to put on Christ! As we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord, let us remember the significance of our today. Let us discern and be conscious of God’s plan for us that we may not fail to respond to this plan today. When Christ comes to us in mystery, our chronos should become our kairos.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.