THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN
(A biblical refection on the FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year A] – 1 December 2019)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:37-44
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalms: Psalm 122:1-2,4-9; Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14
The Scripture Text
As were the days of Noah, 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 when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched 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 hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:37-44 RSV)
Christians usually call Jesus “the Son of God” but that was not Jesus’ favorite to describe Himself. Jesus actually preferred the title ”Son of Man”, which occurs 82 times in the Gospels. To this day, Scripture scholars cannot agree about what this title means.
The book of Daniel and another Jewish writing called the Similitudes of Enoch contain the term “Son of Man”. In both places, it refers to a Messiah-like figure God will send at the end of the world to bring salvation and judgment to all people. Some scholars believe this term applies to an individual while others think it stands for Israel. Jesus may have used this title to identify Himself as the Messiah.
Some of the Jewish people expected the Messiah to be a political and military figure who would lead them in battle against their enemies. They believed he would be a human being who, because he was gifted with God’s own Spirit, would be victorious in battle and would conquer the world. Through him, God would establish a new order in the world, in which there would be no more wars, famines, or evil of any kind. This new order is what some Jews called “the reign of God” or “The Kingdom of God”.
Although Jesus did not fight any human enemies, He did score a victory over the most powerful enemy, the devil, and He promised to return one day to finish the job. When that happens, God will be in complete control of the world, and because the reign of God will be here in its entirety, there won’t be any more wars or evil of any kind.
In today’s Gospel, when Jesus tells us to prepare for the coming of the Son of Man He is really telling us to prepare for His own return. We do not know when this will happen so we must always be ready.
Two sentences in today’s Gospel particularly interest some Christian groups. Jesus says that two men will be in the field and two women will be at the grindstone. One man and one woman will be taken and the other two will be left. Because of this passage, some Christians believe that at Jesus’ second coming He will snatch up bodily those who are faithful to Him and will take them to heaven so they will spared the suffering that will take place at the end of the world. This is what some Christians call “th rapture”.
If the world ended today, would we (you and I) be ready to meet Jesus, the Messiah? How will you and your family use this Advent season to prepare for Jesus’ return?
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 2-3.)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to devote Advent to preparing for Your coming into the world. Help me to immerse myself in Your love through the sacraments, prayer, Scripture, and repentance. Let the darkness of my sins give way to Your irresistible light. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Jakarta, 30 November 2019 [Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle]
A Christian Pilgrim