They were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on that day it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all of them—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.
Whew! Don’t you wish we could skip these bits and just get on to the nicer parts of Advent? We don’t need this end-of-the-world nonsense. What was Jesus thinking? It isn’t the way to make a good impression. … But he does it … every year … tries to scare the life into us.
There will be two sitting at mass: one will be taken and the other left.
There will be two on the way to Costco: one will be taken and the other left.
Two watching X Files: one will be taken and the other left.
Two fretting over a mid-term: one will be taken and the other left.
The day of the Son of Man brings disaster into our domesticity. Our busy little lives are ended. There’s no turning back for belongings—cos nothing belongs to us anymore. There’s no going home—cos home is gone.
When the smell of the storm is on our lips, when the flood is around our feet, when the fire is in our hair, it’s too late to worry about what used to be. When the end breaks in it ruins everything …
So are our lives until then emptied of importance? Should we stop our buying and selling, our cooking and writing, our teaching and praying? They’re only going to be ruined in the end.
Ah, but maybe the rumour of ruin might give our lives in the meantime a different and holy unease. Because there’ve been some things we’ve been putting off. There’ve been some decisions we’ve been keeping on a back burner. There’ve been phone calls not made, apologies not attempted, words of love unspoken, heroism delayed, hope unheeded, yearning suppressed. There’ve been far too many things we’ve been getting round to … some time soon.
Well maybe if the time were short, if we could already smell the sulphur, well maybe we’d do what we really want to do, what we’ve been wondering about for ages. Maybe …And maybe Jesus would like that.
November 13th, 1998