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 work, and orders the gatekeeper 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” (Mark 13:33-37)!
You do not know when the time will come.
We will never be able to find out when the end of the world will occur. Its forever outside our knowledge, until its too late to plan for it, when it is upon us already. Hence the importance of the season of Advent, where we benefit from a dry run for the Second Coming of Christ. By preparing to celebrate Christ’s first coming, we’re conditioned/trained to do what is necessary to prepare for His Final Coming at the End of Time.
He leaves…his servants in charge, each with his work.
The servants are we Christians in our various roles:
- The laity (that’s us) have the task of keeping watch for the Lord, endeavoring to love and obey Him, and serve others out of love for Him by proclaiming the Good News and caring for the spiritually and physically afflicted;
- Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are the “door keepers” with the primary responsibility for keeping watch in the Church. They do this by ensuring we hold fast to all Christ revealed to us, celebrate the sacraments, and shepherd us to heaven in order and peace.
Servants could also be the different virtues of a Christian; the gatekeeper stands for the virtue of prudence, which encompasses detachment, sobriety, expectation, and hope.
Watch! (Some translations say, “Stay awake!”)
St. John Henry Newman’s treatise on the Antichrist offers a compelling explanation of this word, “watch” or phrase, “stay awake:”
Such mediations as these may be turned to good account. It will act as a curb upon our self-willed, selfish hearts, to believe that a persecution is in store for the Church, whether or not it comes in our days. Surely, with this prospect before us, we cannot bear to give ourselves up to thoughts of ease and comfort, of making money, settling well, or rising in the world. Surely, with this prospect before us, we cannot but feel that we are…pilgrims, watchers waiting for morning, waiting for the light, eagerly straining our eyes for the dawn of day or looking out for our Lord’s coming, His glorious advent, when He will end the reign of sin and wickedness, accomplish the number of His elect, and perfect those who at present struggle with infirmity, yet in their hearts love and obey Him.
An Advent Hymn for Mediation
See below for: “Wake, O Wake, and Sleep No Longer.”
David J. Conrad