Gospel Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Advent Year A – November 27th 2016
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.
‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
In the dangers of life we need the confidence of the gospel. Writing this earlier this year I was surrounded by the news items of the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel in Rouen, of violence in our cities, of famine threatened in Ethiopia, and many other violent attacks and natural disasters. We read also of the harsh financial concerns which have been caused by economic collapses and greed. What to make of it?
NO ANSWERS ‘WHY’
Jesus seems to accept that these will happen. He has no answers ‘why’. Like the best thinkers of history he has no easy answer to the problem of evil, but gives a meaning. Jesus offers a path through the suffering of the world and our own personal suffering, not an answer. That is what he will find himself as he goes through his ministry to the Cross.
The pathway in catastrophe and suffering is a pathway shared with others. Grief is lessened when shared; the response to natural disasters like a tsunami or earthquake can be shattering in its generosity and outpouring of community spirit. The support of loved ones when we suffer through the injustices and violence of others eases our pain.
Jesus also indicated the place of prayer; prayer helps us to survive all that his happening and ‘going to happen.’ As in the second reading we pray: ‘may the Lord be generous in increasing our love and make us love one another and the whole human race’.
Lord, May our preparation for Christmas deepen faith and hope within us.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger
Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew, Messenger Publications 2016, €9.99
Order online at www.messenger.ie, or in Veritas and other booksellers.