Friday of the Thirty-SecondWeek in Ordinary Time

It is time to watch

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a person who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise a person in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” Lk 17,26-35

Today, the gospel presents us with the eschatological times, in which the Lord will return to judge the world and history. When he speaks about them, Jesus always uses a menacing symbolism: the thief who comes at night, the door closing in front of the foolish virgins, a man who is taken and another left while they are sleeping together in the same bed. It is a threat to be understood as an exhortation to be vigilant, to be always ready for the departure, with packed bags, like a woman waiting for the first labour pains to go to hospital and give birth to a baby always keeps a suitcase ready with the clothes of the child to be born.

It does not only deal with the eschatological end of the world, which will happen when due, but also with the end of our earthly life, when we are called to leave this scene to show ourselves us before the God’s mercy. It is important to be prepared to leave. It is the fact of feeling ready that turns threatening symbols into appealing promises. It is our eternal destiny to allow us to discern the real goods from fake ones. It is the prospect of death makes us able to live our lives well: it is a powerful beam of light which, like the goldsmith’s spotlight, helps us recognize the true values from the false ones. When we go before him, we will all need God’s mercy, but if a person has faith, fighting his own battle to achieve the plan he has been entrusted with, he is conscious of having spent all his energies to reach it and he has forgiven everybody, he can wait for his time to leave in serenity and peace.

This is the meaning of watching, which has the power to make us live events that might otherwise be felt too worldly with a with a certain detachment: “they used to eat, drink, take a woman as a wife and a man as a husband”. They are all right things, but they all have an end. Only the Lord stays forever.

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