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Advent season begins today and it serves as preparation for the different comings of Jesus- His coming in history, His coming at the end of time (in majesty), and even His coming in the present time (in mystery). Today’s gospel comes from chapter 13 of Mark which talks about the eschatological time and points to the imminent second coming of Jesus (vv33-37).

In exhorting the disciples to be ready for this coming, the verb “grēgoreō” ( γρηγορέω ) is used (vv 34,37), which means to watch, to keep or be awake, be alert, be vigilant (cf also Mt 24:42;25:13). It is used again to mean ‘to keep watch’, with Jesus, during his agony in Gethsemane (Mt 26:38f; Mk 14:34). Outside the Gospels it has the sense of maintaining one’s faith (Acts 20:31; 1 Cor 16:13; 1 Thes 5:6; 1 Pt 5:8; Rev 3:2).

The parable stresses alertness given the unknown time of the parousia; note the repeated: “You do not know” (vv33, 35). The Markan emphasis (cf Luke 12:35-38, a variant may be, if more elaborate form of the same parable), implies that the story has experienced its development from the time of Jesus. What was in the earliest tradition a call by Jesus to live in anticipation of the arrival of the reign of God has become the early church’s summons to vigilance because of Christ’s return. Thus, the introductory and conclusive exhortations to watchfulness (vv33, 37). And as noted above the same verb is repeatedly used by Jesus in his appeal to his disciples while in the garden of Gethsemane which fell on deaf ears (14:32). In this context to be awake means not only to be ready for the coming of the end of time or by simply by doing good works (according to Matthew 24-25) but also to be ready to bear difficulties, trials, and persecutions (like Jesus with his ‘cup’ of suffering, 14:36). This exhortation is meant for all (v37).

Advent is a time of waiting and should be an opportunity to reflect on the longing and hope that preceded Christ’s birth, just as it directs attention to look forward to his return at history’s end. But for most of us, we focus solely on the celebration of his first coming in history that we fail to “keep watch” for his coming in majesty at the end of time and even in the present moment of our life, with all its attendant sufferings and difficulties. May we all remain vigilant and expectant, persevering and faithful, for the Lord indeed comes! Amen!

Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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