“Stay Awake: You Never Know When The Time Will Come”
The season of Advent is the time to await the Lord’s coming. Today’s Gospel from St Mark compares this event to a landlord who returns to his estate after a long while, and expects his servants to be prepared and waiting.
Therefore the characteristic of the Lord’s coming is its suddenness. Again and again, Jesus warns: Be aware! Be watchful! The Son of Man comes suddenly. He comes at the time you least expect, in the dead of the night, or when people have gone to sleep..
God’s reign comes as a vindication for those who have kept faith, and as a rejection of those preoccupied with the passing things of this world. This takes place unexpectedly, just when most of us are lulled into complacency.
These texts about the end of the world, or the ‘Endtime’ as it is also called, were relevant to the early Christians. They really believed that Jesus “died, rose from the dead, and would come again”. They expected him to return soon, but the time in between was also a time of confusion and persecution.
The early followers of Jesus in Palestine were shattered by the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, and the dispersal of their people. The Christians in Rome and other parts of the Empire were frightened by the persecutions inflicted upon them. It took much time and reflection to accept that God’s kingdom is established in glory only after his people have passed through the crucible of suffering, just as Jesus did.
Nor can we fix a calendar date for this to happen, for God’s reign is a spiritual reality which has a time and effectiveness of it own.
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