Homily for the first Sunday of Advent - Year A - Mt. 24:37-44
Father Daniel Meynen
" 'As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.' "
" 'As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.' "
One liturgical year has come to an end, and another begins. The past is behind us, the future is before us. We can live this day, this present moment, by placing ourselves within this perspective of the past and future, a past that serves as a support and a point of reference for us, and a future that offers itself to us as a guide and a compass. It is within this perspective of the past and the future that Jesus seems to place himself when he tells us: "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man."
The liturgical year begins with the season of Advent, that is, the time during which we celebrate the Coming of the Lord. Within this perspective of the past and the future, Jesus has already come, two thousand years ago, and this same Jesus will one day return, on the last Day. But, in the mean time, Jesus is coming now! This is the meaning of the time of Advent, and it is even the general meaning of the entire liturgical year: Jesus comes! In fact, he who comes now is the Holy Spirit, he who is the "other Paraclete" (Jn. 14:16), he who is in a manner of speaking the 'carbon copy' of Jesus the first Paraclete, our Consoler, our Advocate before the Father!
For, the first coming of Christ is principally the Work of the Father, who sends his Son into the world to carry out his Will. Throughout his entire life on earth, Jesus realizes the Work of the Father (cf. Jn. 14:10). At the second coming of Christ, Jesus will come of his own accord, accomplishing his own Work, that of judging the world, in one day, a day that will be eternal: "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man." (Jn. 5:26-27) Between these two comings, it is the Holy Spirit who comes, today, now, acting through the men and women of this world, manifesting thus the Will of the Father and the Son who sent him.
" 'For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left.' "
Why does the Holy Spirit come into us? To teach us. For he himself is the Knowledge of God! The Holy Spirit made Saint Paul understand this, when the latter wrote: "But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification... Such are the things that God has prepared for those who love him. God has revealed them to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God... No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. 2:7-11) This instruction, this knowledge given by the Spirit of God, is a force, a power that enables us to live in a manner that pleases God, and which, thus, gives us access to eternal Life, to the very Life of God: "Father, the hour has come!" said Jesus, on eve of his Passion... "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:1-3)
Of course, to benefit from the knowledge that the Holy Spirit truly wants to give us, one must listen to his Word, and keep one's soul in peace and serenity. One must pray to receive from the Lord the graces necessary for living well, in accordance with the Law and the commandments of God, avoiding sin, and practicing the virtues of faith, hope and charity, as well as those of temperance, patience, humility, and above all prudence... If we live in this way, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit will come into us to teach us! We will not resemble the men and women of the time of Noah who ate, drank, and practiced fornication, adultery, and even more abominable things. Anything that has to do with human life and sin - from abortion to contraception, as well as onanism and homosexuality - we shall avoid all these things if we listen to the Spirit of God, we shall no longer do these things if we pray to the Holy Spirit and ask him to transform us into true servants of God!
" 'Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.' "
The time of the Holy Spirit is the time of prayer. Now, when we pray to God, we never know when our prayers will be answered, even if we certainly know, with the help of divine grace, that, one day, they will finally be answered. For, if we do not know that we will be heard, it is because our prayer is worth nothing, or almost nothing: he who prays must believe and hope, with all his heart, that he will be heard one day, for that is true prayer!
Thus, between the first and the second comings of the Lord Jesus, the Church prays, ceaselessly, awaiting the day when her prayer will be heard. As Saint John records in the Book of the Apocalypse: "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' " (Rev. 22:17) For, the coming of the Lord Jesus, his return in glory, will be, finally, the fulfillment of the prayer of the Church! Then, the Knowledge that the Spirit gives us will be brought to its fullness! Then, Peace will be shared by all and God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4)
Together, let us all pray with the Most Blessed Virgin Mary! She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and no one other than her knows how one should pray to the Holy Spirit in order for him to come into us! Let us receive the Body of Christ today, in order that this coming of the Lord into us might already be, through Mary, the fulfillment of the prayer of the entire Church! "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)