Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late

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

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but anyone who loses it will save it.
(Luke 17:33)

Who knows when the day is coming?
The best we can do is prepare.
Take heed of the Lord’s dire warning:
Repent, reform, and don’t despair.
Jesus said: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of man. People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day when Noah went into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from heaven to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of man is revealed. On that day, no one on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must go down to get them, nor must anyone in the fields return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but anyone who loses it will save it. 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)


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. No one can say that our Lord Jesus did not warn us about the coming endtimes. His example of Noah brings to mind our archdiocese’s cathedral (San Pedro church) which was built in the shape of an ark. Now I understand its symbolic structure — 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 remain steadfast in our Catholic faith, we should have nothing to fear. The catastrophic floods (tsunamis) in Japan and Indonesia, non-Christian nations, give us something to think about.

Whether it is flood or raining fire and brimstone (volcanoes or nuclear fall-out?) or even earthquakes (like the recent big one in Iraq, another non-Christian country), these are all signs from heaven that should not be taken for granted. When these cataclysms are upon us, it will already be too late to prepare. The time to prepare is now. But where can we hide?

“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.

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it; but anyone who loses it will save it.” We can’t miss this simple Christian dictum here: 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 vacuous as the question of the Pharisees — 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 means they would only be known when these events are already at hand, just as one would know there is a dead body when vultures start to gather. The end is inevitable, but being spiritually 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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