Gospel Reflection Dec 1 – Sr. Teresa

Sunday, December 1

First Sunday of Advent

Matthew 24: 37 – 44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Gospel Reflection:
When you begin the gospel passage it seems strange that suddenly Noah’s name pops up. Matthew is writing to a primarily Jewish audience and they would recognize the reference with all of its connotations. If I said, “As it was in the days of post 9/11″ most Americans and many around the world would be able to connect to that because it is a shared history.

The backstory is that Noah tried to warn the people of approaching danger but they laughed at him and went about their daily lives ignoring all the signs of the impending disaster. When the flood came it was too late. We might liken this to the warning of the Environmental Crisis facing the world and fast approaching with dire consequences for the planet. Yet, many ignore or deny the warning signs.

When I first read it, I could get a bit paranoid waiting and watching for God to come and call me home. It is true we do not know the day or the hour when death will come but I can’t be wondering if this is the day. Advent reminds us that The Lord is always coming. The day of salvation is always near. I am invited to receive both. Yet, neither the Environmental concerns, which are of great concern to me nor the idea of my own death is what opened this gospel passage for me.

The line that drew me deep into prayer and reflection was this … “If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” The word house in scripture, almost always is a metaphor for your heart. So, it intrigued me as the “owner” of my house (my heart) have I let a thief break in because I was not vigilant or because I was neglectful? Who might this thief be? Is it the thief of resentment? Of revenge? Of laziness or indifference? Have I let the thief of complacency into my heart and slowly taken my faith for granted? Has the thief of unforgiveness broken into my heart and stolen mercy and compassion from me?

Has the thief of judging broken in and robbed my heart of understanding? I have to admit I had quite a few thieves who had slipped into my heart. They are so clever and take on many disguises and before I know it they have made themselves quite at home in my heart. Actually, if truth be told, I sometimes have helped them to feel comfortable by feeding them. So, renovation and cleaning out is in order for me.

I think Advent invites us, just as in the days of Noah, to look at the impending dangers that threaten our “house” – our heart. We can each name our own thieves that we have let into our heart. During these days of Advent, you might want to sit down and identify the thieves that have broken into your heart. Throughout Advent we will be called to repent (turn around… turn our face back to God). We will be invited to stay awake, to be prepared. A good place to start is to take time to look at your heart and find the thieves who may have broken in and get them out.

-Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP