December 2

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Matthew 24:36-44

Jesus said: “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, 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 Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake 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 unexpected hour.

It’s hard for us to read a text like this and not think about the whole “Left Behind” phenomenon, but it’s not clear that’s what Jesus is talking about here. More generally, this text talks about the ever-present possibility of divine encounter, and encourages us to “keep awake” so that, when those encounters happen, we’re ready for them. There’s even the hint that they will come, not on the mountaintop, but in the ordinary stuff of life, when people are eating and drinking and marrying, etc. This text kicks off the season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas, so maybe it’s a reminder to “keep awake” during the Advent season, to not let the Christmas “routine” to lull us to sleep, lest we miss the divine encounter when it comes in surprising ways. (RAF)

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