Mk 13: 33-37
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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Keep awake!” Surely this can’t mean to go without sleep. (Though, in the garden, Jesus asked exactly that of his closest disciples.) Keep doing well what you were commanded to do, ready for the return of the one who commanded you. St. Francis Xavier, whose feast day is December 3, died within sight of China, spreading the Gospel as he was commanded to do. The Buddha said, “I am awake,” meaning actively aware of everything within me and around me. He spent his life teaching this to others.
Christians live and love and labor for the one who is returning. By doing so, they keep actively awake and aware, watching at the door. We do not know, and cannot know, the exact time of his return. Not even Jesus knew that. Salvation is not a matter of the calendar, but of expectant waiting.
It is Advent: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
—Fr. Stephen Yavorsky, SJ, is the parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish and a staff member at the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Kansas City, MO. He spent six years in Rwanda, and founded the Ignatian Spirituality Program in Denver.
Longed-for Lord, you empower us by your command to keep the command you give us. Command what you will! Keep our eyes open, our hearts alert. May we give you the same warm welcome that you will give us in eternity. Amen.
—Fr. Stephen Yavorsky, SJ