Gospel for Today


Watch!  This is the message for today, the first Sunday of Advent.  The word advent comes to us from the Latin for “to come to,” and it is a season of preparation for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  As we come closer to the end of the Advent season, our preparations will focus on remembering His first coming, as a newborn babe in Bethlehem.  But for now, at the beginning of Advent, our focus is more on His second coming at the end of time.  It is then that Christ will come, not as a helpless infant, born into this frail human condition to suffer and to die for the sake of our redemption, but rather as our King and our Judge, perfectly just but also perfectly merciful, to whom we must give an account of our lives.

It is this second coming that today’s Gospel reading is preparing us for (Mk 13:33-37).  These are the words of Jesus which we hear today: 

Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man traveling abroad.  He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gate keeper to be on the watch.  Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening , or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.  May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’

Jesus is telling us three things:

  1. He will be returning to us.
  2. No one knows when.
  3. Be ready!

So much for all those modern-day prophets of doom who claim to know when the end will come.  Today’s fad is the Mayan calendar, which supposedly predicts the end of time in December next year.  Tomorrow it will be something different.  Jesus tells us quite plainly that no one knows when that day will be, but in reality it matters not.  For we face two judgments; one is the general judgment at the end of time, but the other is our particular judgment which we will face the moment after we die.  With that in mind, it does not really matter if the end of all time comes in 2012 or a million years from now.  We each will face our personal end sooner or later; it may be many decades from now in a hospital bed surrounded by our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, or it may be tomorrow as we cross the street.  Who knows?  

No one knows, but sooner or later we will all meet Christ face-to-face and we will know our eternal destiny.  There are only two options, heaven for those who have accepted the mercy of Christ, or hell for those who reject it.   And that is precisely why Jesus’s message is so important.  Watch!  Be ready!  

This means living each day as one committed to Christ, because any day could be your last.  Decide to be Christ-like today.  Decide to live as Christ would have you live.  Decide to love as He loves.  And renew that decision each and every day.  If you do so, then you will be like the Corinthians in today’s second reading (1 Cor. 1:3-9), who were waiting “for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  St. Paul told them that “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

This is how we want Christ to find us upon His return — resolute and faithful to the end.  We do not want to be found sleeping.  So stay awake.  Stay true to the faith.  Stay vigilant.  And watch!