Dire Warnings to Prepare

Luke 17:26-37
Wis 13:1-9 / Psa 19

It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of man to be revealed.
(Luke 17:30)

No one knows the day it’s coming,
The least we can do is prepare.
What our Lord today is saying:
Repent, have faith and don’t despair.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of man to be revealed. When that Day comes, no one on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night, when two are in one bed, one will be taken, the other left; when two women are grinding corn together, one will be taken, the other left.” The disciples spoke up and asked, “Where, Lord?” He said, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.” (Luke 17:26-37)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel reading is a continuation of our Lord’s warning that the Day of Judgment (the end times) will come at a time when people least expect it. “People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all.” This brings to mind our archdiocese cathedral here in Davao city (San Pedro church) which was built in the shape of an ark. Now I understand its significance — that our Church is our best recourse, providing our salvation on the day of reckoning. We do not know when that day will come, but as long as we are steadfast in our Catholic faith, we have nothing to fear. The catastrophic floods in Thailand, a non-Christian nation, gives us something to think about.

Whether it is flood or raining fire and brimstone (volcanoes or meteors from outer space?) or even earthquakes (like the recent tremor in Turkey, another non-Christian country), these are all signs from heaven that we cannot take for granted. When these cataclysms are upon us, it is already too late to prepare. The time to prepare and be ready is now.

“Remember Lot’s wife.” She turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back. We must never look back. Recall what Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). The life of luxury and leisure are things of the past that we must now leave behind. Instead, it is time to look ahead to the life eternal, a life with Jesus Christ as our way to heaven.

“Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe.” We can’t miss the old principle of life’s dichotomy here: that one who looks only to his own interests will never gain eternal life; while the other one who gives up his interests for the sake of others will wisely earn his salvation. “One will be taken, the other left.”

Finally, the question of the disciples (“Where, Lord?”) seems as irrelevant as the question of the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God would come (Lk.17:20). Our Lord’s reply, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather” simply meant they would know only when these events were already at hand, just as one would know there is a dead body when vultures start to gather. The end is inevitable, but being unprepared need not be so.

Grant us the wisdom, dear God, to be always mindful of our mortality, that our lives are no different from the flowers in the field that are there today and gone tomorrow; fill us with the hope that with faith in Your love and fidelity to Your will we have nothing to fear. Amen

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