Be Watchful!

 November 30, 2008

First Sunday of Advent

Is 63: 16b-17, 19b; 64: 2-7; 1 Cor 1: 3-9; Mark 13: 33-37

Dc. Larry Brockman

Be Watchful! Be Alert!  Advice straight from Jesus mouth in today’s Gospel.  Jesus is advising us to be alert about His presence in our lives and to reflect on it to be certain that we have it right with Him and our God in this blessed season of Advent as we prepare for the coming of the Savior on Christmas.   

Now for most people, this sounds like such a vague and indefinite warning- be watchful.  It stirs your heart momentarily while you hear the Gospel.  But before you can really think about what it means, the feeling leaves.  You will finish Mass, and whatever stirred your heart for that brief time will be gone, swept away by the busy events in the days and weeks before Christmas.  Unless- unless you consciously take the time, make the time to reflect on your life to watch out for God’s presence and will in your life so that you are prepared for the Lord’s coming at Christmas, and indeed, for the coming of the Lord at any time.  That, after all, is the meaning of Advent- a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord.   

Exactly what should you watch for?  Isaiah gives us a great clue on what you should watch for.  He says:  “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not”.  This, it would seem, is the easy path of life- to wander away from God’s plan for you and take on your own agendas- agendas that concentrate on “me” rather than “us”; agendas that align our priorities with the things of the world.  This, in fact, is the lesson of so many of the Old Testament stories we hear, how the Israelites wandered from the law and the prophets in times of prosperity.  Oh, they might pay lip service to the rituals of Worship, but, as soon as the service was over, their agendas prevailed.  And if following the Lord’s law was inconvenient, it was ignored.  After all, they were prospering and didn’t think they needed the Lord.  But then, disaster would befall the Israelites, and they would turn to the Lord in adversity.  This was the pattern over some 2,000 years!  The lesson that Christians should take away from this is that we need to be constantly watchful for God’s will for us and make that the pattern in our lives. 

This is exactly what Jesus meant in the Gospel   Jesus says he gave his servants work to do.  You see, all of you are God’s servants, so God has given each of you work to do.  You need to watch for that constantly.  It means you need to recognize the God given talents you have, and act on them, not just for your own benefit, but for the benefit of all.  It means Moms and Dads who recognize the responsibility they have to instill faith in their children by the example they set for their children, and by taking on high moral standards; it means professionals who are dependable and efficient at their jobs while maintaining an eye on the general good; and students who are dedicated and diligent to their calling as students.  It means working together as a family and building each other up.   

Now for those of you who don’t think you have the time to reflect, or think that it can wait,  consider again these words in Jesus’ warning:  “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping”  These are very sobering words.  You can let that nagging feeling you got to be watchful  pass over- as it certainly will when you walk out of the church and return to the busy world.  But if you do that, if you wait, you may get a wakeup call.  In which case, you may not have the time to act.  It might be a loved one suddenly killed in an auto accident, a terrible illness in your family- a stroke or Alzheimers, or even a quick turn of events in your own life- like a heart attack.  I know, I am recovering from such a wakeup call, an unexpected heart attack just a month ago.  Believe me, it really helped me focus on what is really important in my life.   All the projects and goals I had set for myself were gone- and the things that really mattered were family and relationships.  Such wakeup calls come like a thief in the night.  They affect you and those around you, and in these cases, there isn’t much of an opportunity to prepare, to be watchful- just regrets.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Listen to Jesus, when he says:  “What I say to you, I say to all, “Watch””. 

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