November 16, 2012
St. Roch Gonzalez and Jesuit Martyrs of Paraguay
Luke 17: 26-37
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them.
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back.
Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left. ”Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The movement of the liturgical year is reflected in the Church’s lectionary. As the final two weeks of Ordinary Time approach, the Mass readings draw our minds and hearts to consider the end times. We do this not by way of fanciful speculation, in the manner of the Left Behind
books, but rather through sober reflection on the ordering of our lives to God and humble prayer for aid in times of tribulation. Today’s Gospel strongly contrasts attachment to temporal goods with attachment to spiritual ones. For preferring her burning city over God’s deliverance, Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt; Jesus cites this rather uncomfortable example to illustrate the point. His reference to the body and the vultures is more obscure. The Greek word aetoi
can also be translated “eagles,” but most commentators prefer “vultures.”
The disciples want to know where the righteous will be taken, without understanding that the Kingdom has no spatial location. Jesus tells them that just as the vultures will be found wherever the body is, so also will the Kingdom be found wherever the Word is proclaimed and heard. If we don’t like being compared to such ugly and loathsome birds, let us remember that we, like they, cannot feed ourselves. Someone else must die for us to have life. The vultures at least are mindful of their inherent weakness and come like beggars to their source of food.
In the season of Advent that lies ahead, we anticipate the coming of the Word made flesh into our midst. Let us be eager, like the vultures, to gather where his body will be found, in the little town of Bethlehem.
—Sam Conedera, S.J.
Lord, we dedicate our entire being to you. Let our security rest in knowing we belong to you. In great hope we surrender our dreams, our challenges, and our relationships to you. Remove from us anything that minimizes our conviction to live for you. And when the day gives way to night, let us be filled with thanksgiving and with a peace that comes from knowing we are your beloved.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
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