First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

Advent is a season for watchfulness, for being alert to the coming of the Lord.

This Gospel reading points to the Second Coming, when Jesus will come again in glory. He will come to judge, yes. But, that judgment ought not be a time of fear or consternation for those who have been watchful for His coming. Our expectation of His arrival is cause for hope and joy. He is Lord of the house. He has the power to set things aright, to heal whatever is broken, and to make whole whatever is shattered. While He is gone, He has given each of us, His servants, our “own work,” according to our gifts. We are to be busy about doing the work of the kingdom, evangelizing the world to the gospel both by word and deed.

No one knows when Jesus will return. As such, each moment is to be spent “on the watch” for Him. In our hope and joy, we ought not be caught sleeping, ignoring our commission to live lives of faithfulness. Each moment, for the believer, is a moment given to the Lord. As such, no moment is mundane, for all moments are infused with grace. It is only for us to recognize God’s grace in each moment. This is part of watchfulness, too. To see God’s grace in each moment, even when the Master is abroad and we are on watch for His return.

Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year. The first Sunday of Advent, then, is the Church’s New Year’s Day! We prepare for Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, and for His Second Coming, by preparing our hearts with watchfulness. How can I be more on watch for Christ this Advent, and this year? How can I be aware of His grace in each moment, so I do not lose sight of Him and be found asleep on His return? Daily Mass? A daily rosary? Liturgy of the Hours? The Divine Mercy chaplet? Volunteering at the parish or for a diocesan ministry? Is this the year I discern a call to the priesthood, the diaconate, or to religious life?

Whatever it is, we ought not let the season pass by without considering God’s grace in this moment and in the ultimate meaning of our life. We are called to the kingdom. We have a King who is abroad but who will return. We do not know the hour of His return. That expectation, that not knowing, ought to inspire us to take no moment for granted, to make no moment a waste, to dedicate each moment to an awareness of the place of Christ in our lives.

May this Advent prepare us for the coming of the Lord!

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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