Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2b-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37
Today is the first day of the new Liturgical Calendar Year, which also is the first Sunday of the season of Advent. The word “advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “arrival”. During advent the Church invites us to prepare seriously for the coming of the Lord.
What we are preparing during this time of the year are the two comings of the Lord. First, we prepare for a meaningful commemoration of the mystery of the Incarnation, the becoming-man of God. Every Christmas celebration aims to develop in us a greater appreciation of the saving act of God, who sent His only Son not to condemn the world but to save it (Jn 3:16). This is a four-week preparation, symbolized by the four candles in the “advent wreath”. The color “green” encircling the advent wreath signifies the eternal happiness prepared for us by Jesus. The litugical color of advent is “violet” and it symbolizes repentance and conversion. Receiving the sacrament of reconciliation is considered the most important manner of preparation for the Lord’s coming. Some churches would use “royal blue” to symbolize the hope and expectation of the people as they await the Savior and the salvation promised by God.
And second, we also prepare for the inevitable coming of the Lord during the time of our death or at the culmination of time when He will come to judge the living and the dead. Advent exhorts us to keep vigil and watch because the exact moment of the Lord’s coming is not known.
In the gospel, Jesus likens the disciples to a servant charged by the Master to keep watch of the gate to his property. In biblical times, it was common practice for landowners to leave the care of their lands and business to their servants while they stayed somewhere else. This was a great test of loyalty for the servants: Would they work and fulfill their tasks in the absence of their master? Or, would they wait until they heared the master was about to return and then started doing things right? Yet, the problem was that often the servants would have no idea when the master would come back. Henceforth, smart servants would choose to do their tasks faithfully everyday so that their master would not find them sleeping on the job. In like manner, wise disciples of Jesus would not take for granted their daily mission because they know that the Lord will be back any time of the day – “in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning”.
Like the parents who trust their adult children to look after the house while they are on vacation or like the teacher who leaves the classroom giving her students books to read and study, Jesus trusts that we, his followers, will do the mission he left us on earth. The task is to spread the love of God to every corner in the world, and we are to fulfill this mission through our daily works of mercy and compassion for the poor and the needy.
Manong Robeng is recognized as a loving husband and a good family man. One evening, while he was watching an interesting basketball game on TV, his youngest son jokingly asked him: “Dad, if the angel of death would come to you now and inform you that you are going to die tonight, what would you do?
Manong Robeng calmly replied: “Son, if that happens, I still would finish this basketball game on TV and afterwards, I still would go to sleep at the side of your mother.”
A person who is following a good, responsible, and prayerful life like Manong Robeng would not easily panic in the face of death or as death approaches. Most likely, the Lord will find him ready and compose for their encounter. Such meeting would be a moment of joy and gladness, not of fear and sadness.