Daily Gospel Reflection -- 05 June 2013
Pharisees asked Jesus when G-d’s kingdom was coming. He replied, “G-d’s kingdom isn’t coming with signs that are easily noticed. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ Don’t you see? G-d’s kingdom is already among you.”
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “The time will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Human One, and you won’t see it. People will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Don’t leave or go chasing after them. The Human One will appear on his day in the same way that a flash of lightning lights up the sky from one end to the other.However, first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be during the days of the Human One. People were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. That’s the way it will be on the day the Human One is revealed. On that day, those on the roof, whose possessions are in the house, shouldn’t come down to grab them. Likewise, those in the field shouldn’t turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to preserve their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in the same bed: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together: one will be taken and the other left.”
The disciples asked, “Where, Lord?”
Jesus said, “The vultures gather wherever there’s a dead body.”
There are a couple of things here, but they’re tied together -- the Realm of G-d and the “Coming of the Human One.” We’ll take these in reverse order.
Some people take the latter part of this passage to teach about the supposed “rapture” (cf. Matthew 24.36-44). They see this because the passage states one person being “taken” and the other “left” behind. However, as Jesus clearly states in his examples, those who were “taken” were the ones who died. In the days of Noah, the people “taken” were those who drowned in the flood. Those “left” behind, were Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. Likewise, the people “taken” in Sodom were those who perished when “fire and sulfur rained down...and destroyed them all.” His examples were clearly understood as being G-d’s judgement upon the “wicked.” Jesus is stating that the coming war with Rome should be seen like the judgment in Noah’s and Lot’s time. However, the “wicked” this time would be the nation of Israel.
This is further explained by his answer to the question from the disciples. The word Jesus used is to name the carrion bird is ἀετός (aetos). It means “eagles” -- not vultures. I understand why some translations uses the word vultures instead of eagles, though. Eagles are not known to feed on carrion. However, in changing the word, Jesus’ answer is obscured. The symbol of the Roman Legion was the eagle. I can just see the disciples ask Jesus, “Where will this take place, Lord” (cf. Luke 21.5-9)? Jesus looks at the Roman guards standing nearby. The disciples follow his gaze. “The eagles gather,” he replies, “where there’s a dead body.”
A pretty powerful image.
But the judgement is tied to the first part of this passage. The Realm of G-d, Jesus said, was already beginning in their midst. But since it didn’t look like what they were expecting, they couldn’t see it. However, the seed would be planted very soon and it would slowly grow right along side the weeds. Then, the workers would come and the weeds would be taken and the wheat would be left behind. When that happens, G-d’s Realm would be fully established. It would then continue to spread throughout all creation.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* I know that we don’t like like to think of Jesus in this way, but he was a prophet like Amos. And he saw the coming war with Rome as G-d’s judgement upon Israel.