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First Sunday of Advent

Watch and Wait

Today's Gospel reminds us of the coming of the Son of Man. He can come suddenly at any of the four watches of the night - in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrow or in the early morning. We are warned to keep watch because we do not know when the Master is coming.

Often when we think of the Second Coming, we think of judgement and are moved to anxiety and fear. Have we ever thought of the Second Coming of Jesus as an event to be welcomed, when the Son of Man will come in glory with all his angels? So we watch and wait.

But how will our faith sustain the shock of that event? It seems that today the Church is in a similar state to Mark's Church, an era marked by false teachers and persecution, subject to dangers from within as well as without.

The Church is subject to dangers from within becasue of a culture of individualism which totally subjectivises and relativises the truth. Truth is no longer something given, received from God, but individually possessed so that we regard ourselves as the sole arbiters of what is true or false.

There is a kind of liberalism in the Church today that looks at the Church's teachings as if we were shopping in a supermarket. We select from the shelves what pleases us and suits us and leave behind what we don't want. Indeed, at every visit we can change the goods to suit ourselves - the call to watchfulness is to strengthen our faith in the face of these dangers.

While the Master is 'away', we have been given our tasks to do, not the least to preach and to live authentic Gospel values. We cannot afford to be found sleeping during this crisis in the life of the Church.

But if we are awake and ready, the coming of the Son of Man is an event to be greeted with joy. St Paul tells us that the whole of creation is groaning while awaiting the final redemption. Then the suffering Church will be vindicated and glorified as Jesus himself:

Eyes have not seen nor ears heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, those things that God has prepared for those who love him.

The true servant of Christ will reflect on this because when the time comes, he will want to be found actively engaged in whatever task of Christian ministry to which he has been called.

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