WE DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE TIME WILL COME
(A biblical reflection on THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year B] – 29 November 2020)
Gospel Reading: Mark 13:33-37
First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17,19;64:1,3-8; Psalms: Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
The Scripture Text
“Take heed, watch and pray; 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 servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.”(Mark 13:33-37 RSV)
The end of the world is known only to God. It is His secret. He has not told us for some very good reason. But we do know that the end of this world for each one of us is at the moment of her/his death. When I breathe my last I shall have ended my stay in this world. I shall enter the new future world which I know exists. However, the knowledge of the moment is also hidden from me, and again for very good reasons. If many Christians knew the day and hour of their death, they would postpone their conversion until that last moment. This, of course, would be extreme foolishness, but the world is full of folly. What guarantee have such “unfaithful servants” that they will be given the grace of conversion at that last moment? What reward could such a selfish servant expect of the good Lord? There have been death-bed conversions – the good thief of the cross is an example – but such converts di not willingly postpone their conversion.
The moment of our death is kept secret from us so that the naturally lazy and dilatory amongst us will see the need for being ever on the alert. When we realize what God the Father and Christ have done for us we should feel ashamed at our lack of generosity in God’s service. We are expected to serve God willingly and faithfully every moment of our lives. But God knows the clay of which we are made, hence Christ’s words of warning to all of us. Most of us do what we should out of a sense of gratitude to God, at least for our own self-interest. We all wish to get to heaven, and to do so we must be found worthy at the moment of death. That all-important moment is hidden from us and the only way to make sure of being found worthy then is to strive to be worthy always.
“Watch!” then, is Christ’s advice and command. We know not the year or the day or the hour when our master will call us. That year, day and hour will be unexpected, even if we are advanced in years or have been suffering from prolonged illness. We shall not be unprepared for it if we have tried all our lives to be faithful to Christ and to our Christian faith.
This holy season of Advent is an opportune time for each one of us to look into her/his life and see how she/he stands with God. Christmas should remind us of the second coming of Christ, which will be very soon for all of us. Let us ask today: how would I fare if I were called from this world today? Could I expect to get honors, or even a pass, in my examination? Would I meet Christ as a loving brother and Savior or as a stern judge who would be forced to condemn me? If, in all honesty, most of us would find much lacking in our preparedness, we have still time to put things right. While we are in this world, God is not a stern judge but a merciful Father. He is ever ready to welcome the prodigal son provided the prodigal returns home. Today is the day to return to God. Today is the day in which to decide our future eternal state. There may be no tomorrow.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I want to keep watch for You! Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You so that I will be ready for Your action in my life, in the Church, and in the world! Come Lord Jesus! Amen.
Jakarta, 28 November 2020
A Christian Pilgrim