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
The first Sunday of Advent begins the liturgical year of the Church. The word ‘advent’ means arrival or coming. Specifically in the liturgical setting, the word ‘advent’ refers to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Season of Advent, which consists of the four Sundays preceding Christmas, is a time in which we prayerfully remember the first coming of Christ, while preparing spiritually for his second coming. The 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). Thus, some of the weapons we have to employ are the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God as well as prayer.
Finally, therefore, may the Lord grant us the grace to be good spiritual doorkeepers/watchmen who promptly welcome Him on His daily ‘arrivals’, while detecting the works of false prophets, and alerting others of such evils, whereas keeping the spiritual weapons of truth, righteousness, peacemaking, faith, the Word of God, prayer, among others, until the Lord’s final coming. Amen!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis