Vigilance is the implicit message Jesus is talking about in today's Gospel.
Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
Two events recounted in the Old Testament introduce Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: the story of Noah and the universal flood, and the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom.
Jesus uses these events specifically to say that when those tragedies happen they surprise the people involved, because they seem intent on doing something else. They are turned in on themselves, enjoying life in an unhealthy way, and when those things happen the tragedy catches them by surprise when it’s already too late.
Similarly, Jesus seems to be saying that we can live our lives in the same way, completely distracted from what matters and intent on living a life that may leave us with nothing but a fistful of dust in the end.
Vigilance, then, is the implicit message Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel. That is, we should live without losing sight of what matters, without thinking that we’re the masters of the world, without pretending that we feel like God. In fact, those who live this way sooner or later end up getting very badly hurt.
Indeed, evil is not a punishment but the consequence of human actions. If a person abuses alcohol and smoking, lives a profligate life, and burns the candle at both ends living at an inhuman pace, then it’s likely that one fine day he or she may be stricken with a heart attack. That heart attack is not a punishment sent to them by God, but the consequence of the choices they have made.
There remains, however, the important topic of the suffering of the innocent, which in our eyes has no comprehensible human justification. Jesus came to take that pain upon himself, to experience it firsthand and to give us the courage to face it when it arises in our lives.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.