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Sunday of the First Week of Advent | Joe Buttarazzi

Reflection on the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 24, Lines 37-44

It seems easy to get carried away by the apocalyptic tone of today’s Gospel passage.  It’s like a scene from a bad movie where someone is running from something terrible and yells to no one in particular, “Watch out!  A mysterious event is coming any day that will sweep half of us away, like a thief in the night!  AAHHH!” This end-times view is a tiresome trope.  Let’s tackle this from a slightly different angle, and see if we can replace the dread of the eschaton with the hope that is the hallmark of the Advent season.

Maybe a better way to look at the passage is to step into the analogy that Jesus uses.  He wants you to picture yourself with the option to climb aboard Noah’s ark or to simply ride out the coming storm.  

Picture it.  Noah is trying to get you to book a cabin aboard his grand, flood-proof, floating…zoo.  But like most today, you would probably weigh which choice might make you the happiest.   (Should I stay or should I go now?)   Packed on a boat with Mr. and Mrs. Elephant certainly might have its appeal for some, but my guess is that most of us would prefer to find a warm place where we could enjoy “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” and then hunker down for the downpour, like we always do.  Anyways, Noah’s water world adventure tour seems more like a chore than a pleasure cruise.

But this is Jesus’ point!  If you insist on sticking with the routine – motivated mostly by your stomach or otherwise as well as by fear of what you do not yet know – you will perhaps miss the very thing you seek most, HAPPINESS.  In this passage, Matthew wants us to know that now is the time to climb aboard the S.S. Jesus and steer a course from darkness into the light of happiness that is the Lord.  Yes, you may be berthed with the ‘great unwashed’ while on the journey, but this is not a flaw but a feature. If you want to enjoy “the peace of Jerusalem” you will need them as they are your opportunity to know, love and serve God – the very ballast that steadies your life with purpose and direction.

So awake from sleep and do not miss the boat.   Tell your appetites to stow it while the Holy Spirit takes the helm this Advent season.  

God thank you for giving us the chance to laugh and smile.  Thanks for giving us Gary Larson and his great take on Noah’s adventure:

--Joe Buttarazzi

You're invited to listen to Joe Buttarazzi's reflection on the Sunday of the First Week of Advent, part of Cathedral's Advent Reflection series. You may also listen on our podcast here (or wherever you listen to podcasts).