First Sunday of Advent, 29th November

Mark 13:33–37

Jesus said, “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

The scene of the today’s Gospel reading is set on the slope of Mount Olivet overlooking Jerusalem, where Jesus was sitting there with his four disciples. One of the disciples asked Jesus about when the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple and the end of the world will happen.
On the first event, Jesus told them, “When you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains” (verse 14) would precede the ruining of the city and the temple. As far as the second event was concerned, Jesus said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (verse 32).
The end of the world is known only to God. It is his secret. It will be sudden and unexpected, but Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that it will not find us unprepared, if we do what he tells us.

Although we don’t know when will the end of the world, or the second coming of Jesus, we do know that for each of us the end of the world is at the moment of our death. As soon I breathe my last I shall have end my stay in this world, I shall enter the new future world that I know exists. However, the moment of my death is also hidden from me. In this uncertainty, when shall I die, of certainty, that one day I shall die, there is a motive for me to repent as soon as possible. If I shall have known when I will die, I may postpone my repentance until the very last moment.

The moment of our death is kept secret from us so that we will see the need for being ever on the alert. Thus, Jesus reminds us, “Beware, keep alert.” Jesus further invites to be alert in the Christian ways. That is to keep his law day by day. He invites us to pray always to honour God in our daily life in public and in private.

To illustrate his points, Jesus tells us a short parable about a man taking a journey and leaving his servants in charge. While, the master is away, the servants must be on the alert and be ready to receive the master when he returns at whichever odd hours. Jesus emphasizes the importance of alertness by ending today’s Gospel with the words: “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

The holy season of Advent is the time for us to be watchful in looking into our life and see how we stand before God. The question that we should ask ourselves is: “How would I fare if I were called from this world today?” If we are honest, we would find that we are not well prepared for such an event. However, our God is merciful. He is ever ready to welcome the prodigal son provided the prodigal son returns home.
Therefore, today, the first Sunday of the Advent is the day to return to God because today is the day in which to decide our future eternal state. There may be no tomorrow. May Christmas remind us the second coming of Christ. Amen.