December 1, 2002
First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13:24-37

"Following those hard times,

   'Sun will fade out,
        moon cloud over,
   Stars fall out of the sky,
        cosmic powers tremble.'

"And then they'll see the Son of Man enter in grand style, his Arrival filling the sky -- no one will miss it! He'll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.

"Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer's just around the comer. And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. Don't take this lightly I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too -- these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.

"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don't know the timetable. It's like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the home-
owner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don't want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I'm saying it to all: Stay at your Post. Keep watch."

[The Message]


1. Let's see -- it's darkest before the dawn, so don't discount dawn's arrival simply on the basis of the depth of dark.

Presumably we are also to not count our chickens before they hatch and so not to claim our particular darkness as the darkest of the dark, thus heralding a dawn (thinking our peeps or crows do any more than perhaps point at the false dawn before the dawn).

2. As we begin a year with Mark I recommend Nonviolent Story: Narrative Conflict Resolution in the Gospel of Mark by Robert R. Beck [Orbis]. If there is anything at all to the rumors of war that will find any pretext to manifest into war itself, then we need all the reminders we can get about a better way of nonviolence.

3. The Christian Community Bible comments on "How Christ Comes; Christian Commitment."

In several parts of the Gospel, Jesus invites us to be vigilant while waiting for his arrival. How will he come? How can he come to us if we are meant to die before his coming in glory?

It is true that we will meet the Lord when we die, Nevertheless, Jesus comes to us in several ways while we await him, doing our work and living our lives.

Our work (task) [verse 34]. One aspect of our commitment to Christ is our commitment to the Christian community, our Church. It is our participation in common prayer, in the Eucharist, in the Catechesis and other similar things, and as we participate in these commitments there is not only one but several "comings" of Christ. We see his coming in those of our brothers and sisters who are converted; he comes to us giving us strength and wisdom; he comes to us through prayer, giving us the inner certainly of his presence.

He also comes in our day-to-day living. The prophets have said time and again that the events that bring renewal and growth in values also bring the Lord. At times, he comes in his resurrection, through happy events that bring life and joy, and more justice and hope for the poor. At other times, he comes through his passion and death.

Precisely because Jesus comes in our daily history, we have a commitment to him to serve our contemporary world. As lay people, the major part of our commitment to Christ is expressed through the affairs of the world in our jobs, family, social and political endeavours -- and there, each one in his own way, is to be "alert."

Alert in order not to become discouraged and to be able to resist the environment of corruption and the suggests of the evil spirit. Alert to be able to keep waiting for Christ. For many begin with generosity, making commitments for the good of others but, because they do not have their eyes permanently on the Lord, they lose sight of the goal and turn out to be mere administrators and activists.

They are committed to works and movements but not to the Lord himself. That is why there life is full of contradictions. For a time they perform marvels and suddenly they fail. They do useful things, but are not aware of the moment they should stop them and follow another path. They do their own work, but do not let the Lord take over their brain, their heart, their whole life.

This does not happen to those who are alert: through them Christ comes to [all].

[emphasis added]

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