THEME: KEEP WATCHING UNTIL THE LORD RETURNS
READINGS: Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8 / 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 / Mark 13:33-37
1st Sunday of Advent
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, begins the liturgical year of the Church. The word ‘advent’ means arrival or coming. The Season of Advent, which consists of four Sundays, is the pre-Christmas Season in which we prayerfully remember the first coming of Christ, while preparing spiritually for his second coming. Some of the readings of Advent caution us to avoid what befell God’s people of old. That is, though they expected the coming of the Messiah (Christ), very few were well prepared to receive him when he was born in Bethlehem. Even decades later, as he preached, healed, fed the hungry, raised the dead, suffered for our salvation and arose from the dead, many would still not believe that he was/is the Saviour of the world.
Therefore, as a period of preparation for the celebration of the birth or first coming of the Saviour, the Season of Advent reminds us to be always spiritually prepared for his second coming. This spiritual preparation for the Lord’s second coming could be illustrated with the watchful waiting by an ancient doorkeeper, as in today’s gospel reading (Mark 13:33-37).
In the ancient world, a good doorkeeper stayed awake throughout the period of duty so that he could promptly open the door at the arrival of his master. His community-level counterpart, the city gatekeeper or watchman, was expected to have a good sight, so that he could see from afar any threat to the security of the citizens. And whenever he sensed a threat, the watchman promptly raised an alarm. In addition, the watchman often had a weapon for the purpose of defense.
As Christians, we are the doorkeepers of the house of the Lord. Like a good doorkeeper of old who stayed awake throughout the period of his duty, we are to be watchful until the Lord returns again. Until the Lord’s second or ultimate coming in glory, however, he visits us every day in many different ways. We, therefore, have to be vigilant to recognize his daily ‘arrivals’ and promptly open the doors of our hearts, minds and souls to him. He comes to us in the sacraments to give us his graces, in his Word to enlighten us, in others to admonish us, in the poor to show us the sure path to heaven, in times of sickness or trouble to remind us that the sojourn in this world is short, so we should seek first his kingdom and righteousness, etc. May we always be as prompt as the good doorkeeper in any way and at any time that the Lord may come to us.
Like the watchman of old, we are expected to have good sights, so that we would see from afar any threat to the security of the household of the Lord. In other words, we should detect the works of false prophets and deceptive miracle-workers and alert other faithful especially the innocent ones.
Again, like the watchman of old, we are supposed to keep spiritual weapons for the defense of the household of the Lord. In the Letter to the Ephesians we find some of the weapons we have to employ for our spiritual warfare:
Therefore, take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Eph. 6:13-18, RSVCE).
Finally, may the Lord grant us the graces to be good spiritual doorkeepers/watchmen who promptly welcome him on his daily ‘arrivals’, always detecting the works of false prophets and other deceivers, and alerting others of such evils, keeping effective spiritual weapons, and eventually pleasing the Lord at his final coming. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis