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Advent, the ‘Days of Noah’, and Christ’s Coming Judgement of the World

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For his First Coming, Jesus came as a servant to save us, but at his Second Coming, he’ll be executing judgement. Are you ready?

Today is Black Friday, the official start of the Christmas shopping season (though the pre-season has expanded quite a bit) and, as a result, one of the most important days in the American Economy. But Catholics should not let that overshadow what’s going on with liturgical calendar. Catholics should make sure they head to Mass because today is the all important “Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time”.

So today isn’t actually that special liturgically (but you should still got to Mass!). Of course, the most significant day coming up in the liturgical calendar isn’t until this Sunday, which is the first Sunday of Advent.

Advent is a season of spiritual preparation and expectation for the celebration of Christmas; that’s fairly well-known. But if that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, its second meaning is almost always totally missed: spiritual preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.

God the Son has already come to this earth once before. In that First Coming, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3.17) He came “in the form of a servant” (Philippians 2.7), and he suffered his passion and death on the cross for our sins. He came to save!

That’s not his mission for his Second Coming. If Jesus gave us the terms of a peace treaty between God and men in his First Coming (Jesus is the terms), at his Second Coming our time will be up. Second chances will come to end, our decisions will be final, and he will be coming to execute judgement.

And this explains why the Church gives us this Gospel reading from Matthew for the first Sunday of Advent:

“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.’”

Scripture tells us that before the Flood, “the earth was corrupt in God's sight”, “the earth was filled with violence,” and that “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6.5, 11) God sent the Flood to “destroy them with the earth.” But since Noah was “righteous”, “blameless”, and “found favor in the eyes of the LORD”, God instructed Noah to build an Ark, on which he and his family were saved.

Christ’s Catholic Church is the new Ark, and our Holy Father in Rome is the new Noah, steering the great ship. Only those within the Ark of the Church, and thus grafted onto Christ, will escape the coming judgement.

St. John records in the book of Revelation that he “saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.”

Are you ready to stand judgement before God? If you’re like most of us and not ready, then Advent is a great time to start preparing.

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