Homily for the first Sunday of Advent - Year B - Mk. 13:33-37
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" Jesus said: «Take heed, watch; 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.» "
" Jesus said: «Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come.» "
As is true every year, the season of Advent that begins today is destined to prepare us for the coming of the Lord. This coming is that of his birth among us, about two thousand years ago. So we shall consecrate four weeks to disposing our soul and our body for the coming of the Lord Jesus: our soul, for the fruitful contemplation of the Mystery of the Birth of the Savior into the world; and our body, participating in the action of the soul, for worthily receiving the Savior of the world in his sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the Body of Christ!
This year the season of Advent opens with a passage from the gospel of Saint Mark, in which Jesus speaks of his second coming. There is nothing surprising in this, for the two comings of Christ, the first and the second, are closely linked: they constitute a whole, which is the Total Christ. The Total Christ is composed of Christ himself and all the elect of God, from the first to the last. Christ, who has already come to the earth, constitutes the first element of the Total Christ: he is the Head. When the last of the elect will have been incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, that is to say, when the final element of the Total Christ will have completed the whole Body of Christ, then Christ will return to the earth.
The Church today, like the Church yesterday, celebrates the birth of Jesus on December 25 each year. Now, scientists dispute this date and propose others. This shows that, if the Church celebrates the birth of Christ on December 25, it is doubtless not due to historical or scientific exactness, but rather because, with regard to everything involving the liturgy in general, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Thus, regarding the second coming of Christ - this second coming linked in every way to the first - the Church can and must make these words of the Lord her own: "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.» "
What a beautiful image of the Church! Jesus went to Heaven, as if he were on a long journey... On earth, he left disciples, the apostles, with Mary, his Mother. He gave to Peter, and to his successors, the authority needed to guide the men and women of good will toward the Kingdom of the Father! Each has received from the Lord his own task: one will be an apostle, another will be a teacher, yet another will be a healer, etc... But the doorkeeper, that is, Peter, is commanded to keep watch! Let us take note of this: it is a command. It is not a task that Peter has arrogated to himself: no, it is truly the Lord who told him to keep watch!
If Peter is charged with keeping watch for the return of the Lord, does this mean that other Christians do not have to do the same? No, certainly not. It is clear that all of us must watch and await the Lord: this is what we confess each time we recite the Creed. However, if Peter is charged with keeping watch for the return of the Lord, this means that no one has the right to say: "Here is Christ! There he is!" (Mt. 24:23) On the other hand, if one day it is Peter, or rather, one of his successors, who says this, then let us not hesitate to believe it! Also, let us pray in order that Peter might always be faithful to his mission, in order that one day we might hear, once again: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" (Lk. 24:34)
" «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.» "
When Jesus warns us to not be asleep when he returns in his glory, this does not mean that we can never sleep... What is being referred to here is a sleep of the soul: we must avoid falling asleep spiritually. First, we must be careful not to fall into one grave sin or another, which would cause us to die spiritually, and thus to sleep with the sleep of spiritual death. Then, we must take care not to doze off: we must keep our soul in spiritual joy and chase away the deathly sadness of desolation. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit help us each day of our life to joyously serve Christ in his Church!
If there is a unique and inimitable model of awaiting the Lord, it is truly that of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary! She awaited the visit of the Archangel Gabriel and the birth of Jesus, her child; She awaited with the Apostles the coming of the Holy Spirit, and She still awaits, along with all the Church of Heaven, of Purgatory, and of the Earth, the Return of Christ in Glory! May we all, through Mary and with Her, be fervent disciples of Christ, happy and joyous when we welcome him today in holy communion, as we await to see him one day face to face! Amen!