A curious description is given here. It seems that when the Lord returns, and heaven and earth are renewed, there will be some who will stop along the way—to their great peril—and attempt to retrieve their possessions! Surely, we might think, no one would be so foolish as that. But our Lord assures us that this is so.
An incident might shed some light on this. My parents went through the Sylmar earthquake of 1971, suffering a great deal of property damage (though only minor injuries). It took me several hours to make my way through the twisted wreckage of roads to their home. As I pulled up in front, my mother came out to greet me with these words: "Grandma's pitcher is ruined!" Of all the rubble in the house—and there was plenty—she was concerned about her grandmother's crystal water pitcher.
That earthquake did not make Grandma's pitcher important to my mother. It simply revealed that it was important to my mother. So many of us think that we need not worry about the small sins of life; after all, when the crisis comes, we will rise to the occasion. It is not so. The small sins indicate what we really are; the crisis will reveal it.
The army knows that. In basic training the elementary skills of a soldier are repeated over and over, so that the soldier will do them instinctively in combat. You can tell a soldier what to do—but to turn him into a real soldier, you must drill it into him.
Our Lord knows that too. So it is that he trains us in being Christian soldiers, teaching us to watch and pray, to remain honest and true in small things and large, and to imitate his love in all our doings. But most important on that day will be our love for Him; if it is real, we will run to him, leaving all behind. His coming will reveal us for what we are.
The disciples—quite naturally—are curious. When will all this occur? Should we start packing now? Christ's answer is typical of his nature. The times and circumstances of these things are not fit matters for humans to know. But he will not leave his children without guidance and comfort. The cryptic comment—where the body is, the vultures gather—is fitting to his style. It tells you everything you need to know and nothing you want to know.
How is this? Surely the dead body represents sin, for by sin death came to Adam. By this and other passages we may conclude that the time of the end will be a time of great wickedness. The vultures will gather; will we be ready?