Gospel of Luke (17:26-37) –Just as it was in the days of Noah, so, too, it will be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day that Lot left Sodom it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them; 30 it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away, and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. 34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.”[a] 37 Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the eagles will gather.
My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus is speaking about his second coming, especially at the Parousia. So, when we speak about this passage, that is, second coming of Jesus, there are so many interpretations and theories, different interesting factors about the second coming of Jesus, one of which is very famous. It is called “Rapture”.
So, I don’t know how many of you have heard of the word ‘Rapture’, especially in the protestant world, in various Pentecostal denominations, this is a very common popular belief. They all believe in Rapture, especially in America, it is very popular because of the series of movie called ‘Left Behind’. There are also books with the same name ‘Left Behind’. In that movie, it shows that suddenly when everyone is busy eating; drinking, travelling, moving and enjoying, suddenly here and there, random people disappear, leaving their clothes behind. And sometimes in the plane, the one who is sitting next to you is just disappearing, leaving their clothes behind. And sometimes between the two pilots, one is taken away.
So, there are so many interesting factors depicted in these movies and novels. Therefore, Rapture is very famous and the reason why many people believe in the Rapture is because of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the Bible passage, especially, one of the bases of The Rapture is today’s Gospel. In today’s Gospel, Jesus said, we read Gospel of Luke 17: 33 onwards.
33 Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. 34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
So, God is speaking about some kind of selection. In fact, if you read the Gospel of Matthew, Luke etc., you can understand this selection is nothing but selection between the good and the bad, the sheep and the goat; because God has already spoken that sheep and goat will be separated, the good and bad will be separated, the weeds and the wheat will be separated. So, God has already spoken about this separation at the last coming, the second coming.
34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.”
Why these ‘two’ connections? One is sleeping, the other one is working. What does it mean? On one part of the Earth it will be night, therefore they are sleeping. On the other part,it is day time. Therefore, they are working. This means that the coming of Jesus will happen on both sides of the Earth, at the same time. It is not that first He will come to America, and then He will come to Australia. God will come simultaneously for the whole world, at the same time. Day and night is not a problem for Him. On one part of the Earth it will be day time, on the other part, night. This is the reason why these two sentences are together. Two people in one bed, means it is night time. Two people grinding meal together, one will be taken and the other left. So, this is the day time. So, this is one of the reasons.
The other one- it is a separation. It is not about Rapture, but it is a separation between good and bad. We will be judged on that day. So, the last moment when we are very busy with so many things, at an unexpected time, God will come. And our Lord Jesus, the Son of Man, will come, and He will separate the good from the bad. The righteous to the right side, and those who are not righteous will be at the left side. So, this separation is given in different ways in this Bible passage. But many people speak about Rapture, not only because of this Bible passage as such, but also because of another Bible passage
1 Thessalonians 4: 13 – 17
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
So the protestants or many other denominations, interpret this word as, “Caught up in the cloud”. The Latin word for “Caught up” is rapier; some say ‘rapiemur’. From this word, “Rapiere”, the ‘Rapture’ comes. So, suddenly you are caught up, and taken to the clouds. That means if you are a good person; Holy person, you will be caught up so that you don’t need to go through the tribulation period. You will be saved from the tribulation. So you will be meeting the Son of Man in the clouds, and others will go through all kinds of calamities, plague, sicknesses and all those problems. So, this is how they interpret. But that is not exactly what the Bible speaks about. It is not just a Rapture. It is not about any kind of Rapture.
There is a reason why St. Paul wrote about it. The reason is that the early Church always expected Jesus to come very fast. They thought Jesus is going to come soon. That is why if you read in the Book of Revelation, it is written, “Jesus is coming soon.” That was written two thousand years ago. Even today, we say Jesus is coming soon. We need to understand that the Early Christians, judged wrongly about the judgment, the second coming of Jesus, as if Jesus is going to come within forty years. Why forty years? Because Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem- destruction of the temple. All the people have to run ; Jesus prophesied about a big attack; some tribulations, some kind of problems; unexpected things are going on to happen from all the corners; enemies will come and surround. All these are written in the Bible, which Jesus prophesied in AD 30. Therefore, all the Christians expected a kind of tribulation, a second coming of Jesus within no time. They expected it. And Jesus also said, “When you see some signs, then suddenly you have to run to Judea, and then escape otherwise you all will perish. There are so many interpretations about the Rapture and all those things which the Bible explains in those days. There will be problems; there will be fire down from Heaven, and all these things Jesus mentioned. And Jesus said, it is going to happen soon. So, they knew that after the death of Jesus, Jesus is going to come soon. There will be some symptoms, one of the signs will be this.
The Holy Place will be desecrated. When you see the desecration taking place in the Holy Place, remember that the time has come.
That is why because of the Pachamama that happened in Vatican, many people in recent days, said this exactly what happened. They were talking about some connections. But when Jesus spoke these two thousand years ago, there was another meaning. The meaning was this. Before the tribulation comes, these symbols and signs will be there. Desecration will be found on the main place, the Holy Place. So, in AD 70, forty years after the death of Jesus, the Romans came and surrounded Jerusalem city, and they set fire, and with arrow, they set fire on the temple. They could see fire coming down from Heaven.
But before these sieges of Jerusalem, what the Romans did is that first some people came inside the Jerusalem city and entered into the Holy Place of the Jerusalem Temple, and they kept the Roman symbol on the Holy Place. According to the Jewish understanding, this is a desecration. The moment the Christians in Jerusalem saw this desecration taking place in the temple, all the Christians warned themselves and said, “The time has come! Escape!” And all the Christians escaped to Judea and to other towns because Jesus had already prophesied it. And the Jewish people did not know what is going to come, or what is going to happen. Therefore, they waited. Then soon, the Roman armies came and surrounded Jerusalem city and they set fire to it. Thousands of Jewish people were killed. Even the priests of Jerusalem temple were killed. The whole temple was all burnt into ashes and everything was destroyed including families. And history says, even in the secular historical houses , He also has written, “ Not a single, not even one Christian was killed on that day. Not even one Christian was killed during this siege of Jerusalem.” The reason they say is that the Christians knew it already. Because Jesus had already prophesied it forty years ago, they connected the second coming of Jesus with this prophecy.
So there is one mistake that is happening today. We are connecting this prophesy of Jesus and second coming of Jesus together. That is a misinterpretation of the Bible but at the same time, it is true that Jesus is going to come. There is also a possibility that similar incidents are going to take place. There are also predictions; and Bible passages about it.
So, the Early Christians among the Thessalonians, they all knew Jesus is going to come soon and they all wanted to be alive when Jesus comes so that they will be taken up and separated and they will be able to see Jesus face to face and then go to Heaven. This is what they expected. But some people died in between. So then all Jewish people, the family, the members, and everyone cried so badly that these people are going to miss Jesus. They were supposed to be alive till Jesus comes back, but these people have died before Jesus’ coming and therefore, they will be missing the judgement, and they will not go to Heaven. That is when St, Paul is teaching them, consoling them, saying, “Don’t worry. Even those dead, they all will be risen.”
We don’t need to worry about those who are dead. They are not gone. That is resurrection. That is our basic faith because Jesus died and He came back, and He showed that all the dead will be raised. If some people die in between, don’t think they are gone, or they are going to disappear, and you will never be meeting them again. That means the people of Thessalonians, they all wanted to be alive. They don’t want to experience death. They want to meet Jesus, go with Jesus, and be in Heaven without going through the experience of death.
So, many people, even today, believe this. They don’t want to experience death; going to the coffin, and getting buried under the earth, and then go. So, they all want to go directly. So, this is what the Early Christians expected. They thought they would be going directly to Heaven when Jesus came back. All the others will perish, and we all will be taken to Heaven. So, that is why St. Paul wrote this letter.
1 Thessalonians 4: 13
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
St. Paul says you should be aware of these, about those who have died. You should understand one important factor. The Gentiles when they die, they grieve and cry so badly. Just like them, you should not cry in front of the departed members of your family. You are not going to miss them at all. Why?
1 Thessalonians 4: 14
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.
We all Know that Jesus died, and rose again. In the same way, we all will die. All of us who are alive, and all those who are dead already, will die and rise again, through Jesus. God will bring with Him those who have died. When at the end time, second coming of Jesus, when Jesus comes, you know what happens!
1 Thessalonians 4: 15
For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.
Don’t ever think that since we are alive, we will be meeting Jesus first, and those who are dead will be lost, and they will not meet Jesus. This is what many people thought. Now St. Paul says not to ever think like that. We will not be the first ones to meet Jesus. Then, who are the first ones to meet?
1 Thessalonians 4:16
For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
This is about the second coming of Jesus. What does it mean? All those who died until then, beginning from Adam, all those who died, will rise first.
1 Thessalonians 4:17
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.
That means, all those who died from Adam till now, will be raised first and then along with these people, we will also join and meet the Heavenly Father who comes from the clouds. So, that is the meaning of the so called, ‘Rapture’ in this Bible. The dead will be risen, and then we will meet. First, the dead people will be resurrected, and along with them we will meet Jesus who comes in the clouds. So, this is one thing we need to remember. That is what coming of the Lord means.
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
So, don’t ever cry, don’t worry too much about the departed souls of your members, but instead, you have to encourage each other with these words. Don’t worry about the dead, they all will come back. We will meet together. Before the final judgement of our Lord Jesus, we will be given time to meet our friends and family members who are departed from our families, and meet and introduce each other, and speak, and have some conversation. So don’t worry about it.
Therefore, we the Catholics do not believe in the Rapture. We believe in the Second Coming of Jesus. We believe in the resurrection of the dead. We believe in the meeting of Jesus along with the risen people. So, this is one thing we need to remember.
Luke 17:24 –
For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.
So, from one side to another side the lightning flashes, the Son of Man will come in his day. When He comes in the Second Coming of Jesus, He will come at an unexpected moment like a flash of lightning.
Luke 17: 25
But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.
First, He has to die, the Son of God. Jesus is prophesying his crucifixion.
Luke 17: 26
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so, too, it will be in the days of the Son of Man.
So, what happened during the time of Noah? Noah’s time nobody knew there was going to be a flood. Everyone was busy enjoying, eating, drinking, travelling, and partying. They don’t even think of God. They are not worried about God. They don’t even go to Church, not praying, not sacrificing, nothing, except Noah’s family. All the others were enjoying themselves. They were not spiritual. They were fully worldly except one family- that was Noah’s family. When the Second Coming of Jesus will happen, the same situation will be there. What does it mean? The whole world will be busy eating, drinking, selling, buying, marrying, and all enjoyment, entertainment; no one will be interested in God, no one will be thinking about God, no one will be believing in God, everyone will be forgetting about God. All these things will happen. Only a remnant of Israel, only a small number of people will be there, holding on to Jesus, believing in Jesus, and waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus, just like what happened in the time of flood and Noah. The same thing is going to happen in the Second Coming of Jesus. This is already prophesied by Jesus.
My dear brothers and sisters, if you look around in this world, you can see that the more the world is increasing, the less the faith in God. People are denouncing God, denouncing religion and forgetting to go to Churches. The churches, cathedrals and shrines have been closed down and sold to pubs and hotels. People are abandoning God. The youth and youngsters are not believing in God. Atheism is increasing. This is already prophesied. Jesus knew it already. The Bible already prophesied it. This is going to happen. This is already happening.
They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them.
They were busy with their business. But only Noah was building up the temple, building up the arc. The ark is the symbol of the Church. In the Church, all varieties and nationalities, races and everyone. In the same way, ark is the symbol of the Church. And Noah was busy building up the Ark when the people were enjoying themselves. So, during the days of the coming of Jesus, the Second Coming of Jesus, we should be busy building up the Church. All those who work for the Church, all those who work for the building of the Church; the building of the Church means Church is the mystical body of Christ. All those who work towards the building of the Church, all the charisms, gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit which God has given you, is for the building up of the Church, not for your personal building of your business. So, all those who are busy building up the Church will be saved.
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building,
You know what happened to Lot? Lot is the brother of Abraham and he was in Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah was the place where all kinds of evil practices were taking place; homosexual unions, sexual perversions, living together without any Sacrament and all kinds of sinful habits. All these were taking place in Sodom and Gomorrah. They were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; but only one family, Lot’s family, welcomed the Angels of God in their family. Only one family was thinking of God. Only one family, eight of them, were thinking of God, welcoming God. They were talking to the Angels of God and they were interceding for the whole country. And all the others were busy with their worldly lives.
but on the day that Lot left Sodom it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them;
My dear brothers and sisters, even today if you go through Sodom and Gomorrah, you will see the whole land full of sulphur and big stones of salt and one of which is called the wife of Lot.
it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.
Just like these, people will be falling into all kinds of sexual sins, especially sin of homosexuality and people will be busy with all these things, perversions and everyone will be fighting for their right and forget the real right and everyone will be busy in their own world, enjoying; no connection with God, not thinking with God, not going to the Church, no practicing of spiritual activities; everyone will be in the world and just like the sulphur and fire came upon Sodom and Gomorrah, at an unexpected moment only one family escaped from this city, that is the family of Lot. The same way, the Son of Man will be revealed, Revelare, Revelation or Apocalypse. Apocalypse comes from this word, revealed.
On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away, and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back.
When you are on a housetop, when the Second Coming happens, don’t look for the belongings in your bag, but think about Heaven. Those who are on the field, when Jesus is coming, don’t think about what is left in your home, but think about Jesus, think about God. That means, there is a possibility that all those who are busy with material things, even at the last moment, you may not think of God; you may think of material things.
All those who are leaning towards evil, you cannot say, “okay now let me enjoy maximum, enjoy whatever I want, I’m going to enjoy it. At the last moment when I’m going to be very old, and all my hair will be gone, all my hair will become white and my health will go, cholesterol and sugar will be there too much, and then I will go to the Divine Retreat Centre and attend one retreat and I will sit for intercessions. I will go for five or six confessions, and get rid of all the sin, then I will be Holy and go to Heaven.” This is how people dream about. It’s only a dream because it will never happen. All throughout your life if you are leading an evil life, at the last moment, you will not think of God, you will only think about evil. The one who is so connected to the material things, even if you are on the housetop when you see Jesus coming, you will still think about the material possessions in the back. You will run back. You should be thinking about God. A person who is always thinking about God all throughout his life will be able to think about God on the last day.
One day when I was speaking, a person came to me and said, “Father! when Jesus died, there were two thieves. He was a thief. But at the last moment he repented, and he escaped.” My dear brothers and sisters, none of us know his background. But there is also another thief just like this thief. And he also stole and was committing sins. But at the last moment, when Jesus the Saviour was just close to Him, how come he did not repent? How could he not ask Jesus?
One word was enough, “Jesus remember me” ,and he could have been saved. But he did not open his mouth. Yes, he opened his mouth to abuse Jesus, not to ask for mercy. Because, all throughout his life he was leading a sinful life. At the time of his death, he could not repent. Even when the Saviour was available next to him, he could not ask for mercy, he could not repent,; he fell down wrongly because he was always leaning towards the wrong side. Then why the other thief? Most probably he was not leaning on the wrong side all throughout his life. Maybe, somewhere, something happened, and by mistake he did something wrong, and he was caught when he happened to commit a sin. Therefore, he was punished. That is why we read in the Bible about him as ‘the good thief’. He was good all throughout his life except the last sin he committed. For the last sin he committed, he is crucified on the cross. But the last moment God saved him. Why do we call him a good thief? It is because of how he spoke to Jesus. He said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He knows Jesus, he knows about resurrection, he knows about the Kingdom of God, he knows all these. He is a spiritual thief. That’s why we call him a ‘good thief’. He is not ignorant about the Bible. He is leading a good life. Maybe some mistake, or misunderstanding, or maybe something went wrong in his life, and he happened to commit a sin. Not all in the prison are guilty. Not all the people who are punished are guilty. There are so many who are innocent.
My dear brothers and sisters, therefore, remember, if all throughout your life you are doing evil, leading towards evil, there is no chance at the last moment. Do not ever postpone your repentance. Don’t ever think, “okay at the last days, when I become eighty or ninety, I will repent, when I will lose my eyesight, I will stop watching pornography, and when I’m not able to stand up, when I will stop running after people.” So, this is how many people plan- that they can repent and go for confession, and go to Heaven. It’s only a dream my dear brothers and sisters.
Let me remind you that if a tree is leaning to the left all throughout its life, it will never ever fall to the right side, but only to the left side. That’s why Jesus said this.
So, wherever you are, Just forget whatever you have, forget your belongings and properties, and just focus only on Jesus; only about God; no attachment to people, only attachment to Jesus.
Remember Lot’s wife.
See what happened to Lot’s wife. Everybody was running from Sodom and Gomorrah, the whole family. But Lot’s wife was thinking about the pickle she prepared at home, the meat and all the other things she kept in the refrigerator, fridge and all the cleaning which was pending, the clothes which are to be put in the washing machine. As a woman, naturally we will have so many things in our mind, and she is thinking and just looking back to make sure that at least her TV, or something is left behind. She was just looking back to see out of curiosity if there is anything left behind that she can go and pick up. So this is what she thought while she was just looking back, and suddenly she became a salt pillar.
So my dear brothers and sisters, if anyone is interested too much about salt, then you can look back. The Lord says don’t look back to what you have lost, what you left behind, just leave it behind. There are many people, even though they march forward with their Holy life, in between they look back to their old life. I remember one of our team members. Sometime back, he was living a very bad life, a wrong life, an evil life. But he got converted after he attended retreats, and he started leading a good life; he started giving good testimonies, good examples; always prayerful with one rosary in one hand, another rosary in the other hand, one Bible, one big Benedict Cross in pocket, and on his neck, another cross, and he is moving around like a cross.
And then one day he was talking to another team member, and he was shouting with a cross in one hand, a rosary in the other hand. With these two weapons, he was shouting at this poor man and he said, “You don’t know who I was; you don’t know how many people I killed, how many people I threatened. I used to use a gun and do these things; you don’t know. So don’t speak to me like that.” With these weapons he was talking like this. I happened to hear from behind, and I even got frightened.
My dear brothers and sisters, he was thinking about his past, highly exalting himself about his past. He is turning back. But he didn’t become a salt pillar. If he continues, he may.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is a problem. Many people look back to their old sinful life. What you have left behind, leave it behind. Don’t ever exaggerate or exalt it in front of poor people. By doing so, you are projecting evil more than good. By doing so, you are exalting evil, not good. By doing so, you are committing the same sin again unknowingly. It is dangerous. That is some dirty part of your life which you have to repent and renounce it. Why are you still carrying it on? This is what exactly happened to the wife of Lot. She was still in Sodom and Gomorrah, though she was at the entrance of the Heaven. She had escaped from Sodom and Gomorrah but she is still in Sodom and Gomorrah. What happened to those people happened to this girl.
My dear brothers and sisters, just because we are all in the Church, saved people, the people who are saved, need not be saved. We may be still in Sodom and Gomorrah. If anyone who outwardly puts a cassock, preaching with all these vestments, and is inwardly enjoying the past sins, speaking highly about these evil things, and remembering it, enjoying it, rejuvenating it; then remember, that it is a clear sign that you are committing the same old sin again in your mind. That means, the sin will become fresh again and again. The sin committed in the past will be repeated. Therefore, all the dirty sins, all the sins which were committed in the past; leave behind. Don’t turn back. So, remember, the original Greek meaning of the word, ‘remember’ means ‘learn a lesson’. Learn a lesson from Lot’s wife. Don’t look back.
Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it.
So, don’t worry about what will happen to me tomorrow, what will happen to me if everyone goes away, what will happen to me, what is my status, where is my security, and so if this President goes, if this Prime Minister goes, what will happen? What if President Trump is gone and Job Biden comes? Many people are worried what will happen- the abortions, and all those things, what will be the state of America? All the immigrants will come…
My dear brothers and sisters, God is in charge. Believe in God, not just in Trump. That is more important. God can create many good Presidents and Prime Ministers; good leaders… Who knows, tomorrow we all will start appreciating the present Presidents and Prime Ministers. God can change anyone, anytime. So, believing in God is more important than believing in mere mortal beings, thinking that only they can save America, only they can save the United Kingdom, only they can save India, or any country. That is a wrong notion. Just believe in God. That is more important. Focus on there, not focusing on what is left behind. Don’t focus on what is left in the room.
I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is all about the so-called ‘Rapture’. We don’t believe in the Rapture. We believe in the resurrection of the dead. We believe in the Second Coming of Jesus. We believe that all the dead today will be raised. Even if we die, don’t worry, we will be raised, and we will be meeting Jesus first because He died first. Let’s all wait for that Second Coming of Jesus and meet Jesus face to face.