1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT – B
Mark 13: 33-37
Why do we put candles on our cake when we celebrate our birthdays? Because candles are symbols of beginning and end. In Genesis, light was the first thing that God created; with this in mind, the candles remind us of our birth, a beginning that is rooted in God. And why do we extinguish the candles? Because we are reminded that we do not live forever; that our time is limited and like the candles, we experience many small deaths as we give our light to the world until we reach the time of our final dying when we have to surrender our lives back to God, the Giver.
Today, the First Sunday of Advent, we enter into a new season in the liturgical calendar of the Church. It sounds a little bit weird that we open the new liturgical calendar with a pericope from Mark 13, a part of an apocalyptic material which sounds terrifying and horrible. This chapter opens up with the prophecy of Jesus regarding the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. As we begin the liturgical season of Advent, like the candles on our cake, the Church also reminds us with he first candle in the Advent Wreath that we do not have the luxury of time hence the attitude of active waiting.
When Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, he did not say the time when it would happen. It really did happen in 70AD when the Romans destroyed the whole of Jerusalem.
The parable this Sunday is about the Doorkeeper. In Palestine, the doorkeeper is in charge of watching the property most especially at night to secure the household against robbery or theft and to open the door should the master arrive home late. Therefore the main characters of the doorkeeper are watchfulness and vigilance.
Jesus is the master of the house who is on a long journey and his “prolonged absence” will end with a glorious and sudden return which we call the Parousia. Every Christian is a doorkeeper who awaits the return of Christ. Just as the doorkeeper must watch and be vigilant because he does not know the time of his master’s return, so we must also be watchful because we do not know the time when Christ will come again. As doorkeepers, we are also vigilant towards our definitive and personal encounter with Christ. We are not “passive waiters” but rather we make use of the time, talents and treasure that God has entrusted to us while waiting for his return.
Our whole existence is a waiting for God who is our future and our destiny. Our attitude is not of fear but of expectant joy and full of hope just like when we await the coming of a long expected beloved.