The Need to be Watchful

Driving one morning on the way to the office, I saw the aftermath of an accident which happened a few minutes before. I saw the dead body of a tricycle passenger who was seated on the back of the driver. What I saw was graphically terrible, and my knees was shaking the rest of the way. Various thoughts hounded me: “When the person left home that morning, was he able to say goodbye to his family?” Did the loved ones have any inkling that that would be the last time they saw their loved one alive?”

How fleeting life is, that in an instant it can be extinguished just like that! In the Gospel today, Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk. 13: 33)

The Lord emphasizes the need for watchfulness. Just last year, a religious sect warned that
America and Europe will be plunged into darkness by a solar eclipse in 2017 – and then the world will end. When the appointed time came, nothing happened. As Jesus has repeatedly said that only the Father knows the exact hour, the Son of Man will come without warning. The disciples must not be caught unprepared when this time comes. So, in this Advent Season, a season of preparation and repentance, we should heed the warning – repeated three times by our Lord in today’s Gospel – to be watchful, for we know not the hour when the Lord of the Universe will come. As Christians, we too must be alert and be ready for the Savior’s return. Our life must be dedicated to preparing and staying alert by living a life of faithfulness and readiness.

A good way to prepare and being ready is to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5: 17). Our first thoughts in the morning should be to pray to give thanks and express our gratitude to the Father. We should pray before leaving home and then pray before work. There are many moments during the day that we can give time for prayer: before making a decision, during moments of stress, temptation, in times of problems with health, and even when we realize that we’ve done something wrong. If it is serious, we have to seek forgiveness from God and the Church through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As we begin the Liturgical Year, it is a time of waiting, a time of the expectant coming of the Lord. During this season, let our waiting times be spent in prayer. While waiting to drive or ride public transport, while waiting to attend a meeting, or while waiting for somebody, take the time to pray. Wait for the Lord, pray always. Only then can we say we are watchful and being faithful to the real meaning of Advent.

“Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” (Ps. 80: 4)

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