First Sunday of Advent  -  Year A  -  Matthew 24:37-44




"«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.»"



Homily:


"«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.»"

On this first Sunday of Advent 1998, we inaugurate the third preparatory year to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.  This third year will be consecrated to the Father, the first person of the Most Holy Trinity.  When this final year of preparation will be completed, we will begin the celebration of the second millennium of the Birth of Christ!

The period of Advent is also a preparation for the celebration of the Birth of the Savior: this year, therefore, we will celebrate the 1998th anniversary of the coming of the Son of God into the world!  It is true that the year assigned to the anniversary is not quite exact:  an error of a few years was made, perhaps on the order of 4 or 5 years.  But does this mean that our dating system must not be taken into account?  Not at all.  The reason for this is that this dating, 1998 years after the birth of Christ, is universally acknowledged and serves as a relation between all the people of the earth, even those who possess their own particular calendar, such as the Jews and the Moslems, to mention just two.

The unanimous consensus of the whole world affirms it:  Jesus was born in Bethlehem 1998 years ago!  This date is the one upon which human history hinges:  we calculate the dates of events as being a certain number of years before or after the birth of Christ.  For instance, there was the flood, probably 3000 years before the coming of the Savior.  In that time lived Noah, who awaited the promised Messiah.  Ever since God had driven Adam and Eve out of the terrestrial Paradise, the Messiah had been promised by God:  "The LORD God said to the serpent:  «. . . I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.»" (Gn. 3:14-15)  But did mankind await the Messiah in the time of Noah?  "They did not know until the flood came and swept them all away."  The answer is clear:  the ark that could have saved them didn't count for much in their eyes; and the Messiah, as well as his Church, which was represented by the ark, were mocked by them!

"«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.»"

Did mankind expect the Messiah at the time of his first coming?  Did they do penance for their sins?  Were they correctly prepared to meet with the Savior of the world?  If we refer to the example which Jesus himself put before our eyes, it is clear that the answer to all of these questions is:  no!  "In those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage."  This is what the men and women did before the first coming of Messiah!  But what about now?  What does mankind do?  What will they do in the days that will precede the second coming of Christ?  Jesus himself told us:  "So will be the coming of the Son of man."  That is, men and women will do as the people in the time of Noah did:  "They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage."

A terrifying warning!  And Jesus insists:  "Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."  Watch therefore!  Yes!  It is necessary to watch, for nobody knows on which day he will meet the Lord!  It is true that there have been some exceptions:  Saint Benedict, for example, who revealed to his brothers the day on which he would die.  But all of us have to watch, because we know neither the day nor the hour!  "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."

Between the first and the second coming of the Savior, there is another that concerns all of us today:  it is that of our union with Christ in the Eucharist.  Here too, Jesus comes, and on this very day!  He comes under a very special appearance, that of bread and of wine:  but, it is the entire Jesus who comes, with both his divinity and his humanity.  He comes!  It is up to us to receive him the way he should be received!  Let us welcome the Savior of the world as the small child full of mercy born in Bethlehem!  Let us welcome the Lord of the Universe who will judge us with equity in the end times!  May Mary, who brought the child Jesus into the world, give us the Eucharist on this day, so that we may be her children and the children of our Father of Heaven!


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