1st Sun Advent C
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This is the concluding section of the eschatological teaching that immediately precedes the Passion narrative. In the earlier sections Jesus had warned his disciples of a coming time of distress and persecution. Using prophecies of the coming destruction of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem, he describes experiences of terror and persecution that range far wider than the events of first Century Palestine. Now in this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus turns to the final coming of the Son of Man, exhorting his followers to be alert to this coming, possible at any time. Once again, using the heightened imagery of apocalyptic language he describes events that will strike terror in the human heart. Only his followers are not to be terrified. They are to stand tall and be ready for, in what looks like destruction, the first signs of the liberation offered by the Son of Man.
While these descriptions, at first, seem foreign to Luke’s Gospel, a closer reading shows that Luke has carefully prepared his readers for this scene. Frequently, he has interspersed his Gospel with references to the coming of the Son of Man and his judgement. As well, the verb used to exhort the disciples to stand tall was used earlier, in 13:11, in a negative sense to describe the woman who couldn’t stand straight because she was bound by Satan. The ‘liberation’ that comes with the Son of Man was originally proclaimed in this Gospel in the canticles of Zechariah and Mary.
The crucial attitude needed to prepare for the coming Son of Man is primarily a certain vigour of the heart. First, its opposite is described: a stupor akin to the deadened insensitivity of drunkenness or debauchery. The experience of a world, stricken by such terrifying events, can also deaden the ability to recognise the presence of God if a person’s focus is in the wrong place. In contrast, true disciples are to actively develop a sensitivity to the coming of God: they are to pay attention to themselves, to keep alert at all times, the pray in all situations.