According to the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, the meaning is the exact opposite of the “rapture” crowd. IOW, the ones taken are the reprobate (since it is following immediately after the example of Noah and the flood.) The ones left, are the righteous. Just as in the time of Noah, those swept away (taken) were the sinners, and Noah and his family were “left.” These verses also apply to the ultimate destruction of Jerusalem. “Where the body is, the vultures gather round.”
“Taken” means dead, no more, no less. That’s why the reference to vultures.
So, two people will be working out in the fields and one of them will drop dead (of whatever cause). The whole notions of the “rapture” was made up by Darby, and has no support in scripture (without one mixing and twisting scripture to make it say what you want).
How are we as Catholics to understand these lines – specifically, while rejecting the Protestant teaching on the Rapture?
This passage refers to the second coming of Jesus and the final judgement. Those that refuse to believe or have rejected God will perish and those that have accepted Him will be vindicated.
God judges everyone individually. He gives us free will to accept or reject His Son as Lord and Savior.
Jesus’ warning in this passage is motivated by His love for each of us. He does not desire that anyone is lost.
He wants us to place our faith and hope in Him alone…to trust Him with our lives so when He comes again we will be ready to be judged by Him. Because when that day comes, it will come quickly and it will be too late to repent or change our ways.
Something I find interesting about Lk 17: 34-35 is that it eludes to the following:
*Jesus and His Family.
His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers* [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.”
But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?”
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.
[For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Also found in Lk 8:19-21
The phrases ‘two people in one bed’ and ‘two women grinding meal together’ show a familial relationship of the ‘two’. So it seems to reiterate the passage mentioned earlier in the Gospel, either Mk or Lk, which states who are your brother, sister and mother.
Luke 17** “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.”
Jesus says some will be taken (destroyed) by fire, some by water
“The flood continued forty days …. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.” RSVCE
“And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion …”
Does the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible use the NAB ?
Please confirm yes or no.
“Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.” NAB
The translators of NAB often used Protestant sources in an effort to be ecumenical.
Eagles or Vultures
The word in question is the Greek word “aetós” Strong’s # 105.
According to the Protestant J. Thayer Lexicon, the Greek word “aetós” means eagle. However, he substitutes “vulture” in Luke 17:37 and Matthew 24:28
Thayer’s Lexicon (Protestant Dictionary)
“an eagle : Rev. 4:7; 8:13; 12:14.
In Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37 it is better, since eagles are said seldom or never to go in quest of carrion, to understand with many interpreters either the vultur(e) percnopterus, which resembles an eagle, or the vultur(e) harhatus.”
I believe a much better translation is the Douay Rheims or RSVCE
“And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” RSVCE
“They answering, say to him: Where, Lord? Who said to them: Wheresoever the body shall be, thither will the eagles also be gathered together.” Douay Rheims
The Disciples are asking where is it going to be safe. Jesus is saying it is at the Mass. That is where Jesus will be.
Consider parallel passage
“For as the lightning come forth from the east and shines even to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
Consider Church Fathers on this passage
St. John Chrysostom
“For wheresoever the carcass is,”** says He, **“there also will be the eagles,” **Matthew 24:28 calling His body a carcass by reason of His death. **For unless He had fallen, we should not have risen again. But He calls us eagles, implying that he who draws near to this Body must be on high and have nothing common with the earth, nor wind himself downwards and creep along; but must ever be soaring heavenwards, and look on the Sun of Righteousness, and have the eye of his mind quick-sighted. For eagles, not daws, have a right to this table. Those also shall then meet Him descending from heaven, who now worthily have this privilege, even as they who do so unworthily, shall suffer the extremest torments.
St. Thomas Aquinas quoting St. Ambose
**Luke 17:37 **“And they said to him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.’ ”
For the souls of the righteous are likened to eagles, … Now concerning the body, we can have no doubt, and above all if we remember that Joseph received the body from Pilate. … But the body is that of which it was said, My flesh is meat indeed; and around this body are the eagles …
St. Thomas Aquinas
Secondly, this belongs to Christ’s love, out of which for our salvation He assumed a true body of our nature. And because it is the special feature of friendship to live together with friends, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix), **He promises us His bodily presence as a reward, saying (Matthew 24:28): “Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered together.”**Yet meanwhile in our pilgrimage He does not deprive us of His bodily presence; but **unites us with Himself in this sacrament through the truth of His body and blood. Hence (John 6:57) he says: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him.” **Hence this sacrament is the sign of supreme charity, and the uplifter of our hope, from such familiar union of Christ with us.
I written much on this. According to CAF guidelines I have just copy and paste the essentials above.
It is not literal. What Jesus is stressing is that it will come “like a thief in the night” when no one expects. What he is actually stressing is how we must always stay ready. We must always walk in his word, etc.
I did a recent study on the Parable of the 10 Virgins (Mathew 25:1-12). In that parable, Jesus states sort of the same thing when it comes to always staying ready. I prefer to study with the KJV simply because it’s older and closer to the original text in my opinion, but if you compare it to the NIV or other Catholic Versions, you will see it says the same thing anyway.
Check out my post here: brandonjchai.com/index/ten-virgins-parable/
I would add that taking it literal is not against Catholic teaching. Many believe that at the end of time the righteous will actually meet Christ in the air. But the key is “at the end of time”. The problem arises when it is used to describe an event before the end of time - this is when it deviates from Catholic teaching.