Sunday, November 27, 2011
a) Initial Prayer:
Father in heaven, our hearts desire the warmth of your love and our minds are searching for the light of your Word. Increase our longing for Christ our Saviour and give us the strength to grow in love, that the dawn of his coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reading: Mark 13, 33-37
33 'Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from his home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own work to do; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn; 36 if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. 37 And what I am saying to you I say to all: Stay awake!'
c) A moment of silence:
so that the Word of God may enter into our hearts and enlighten our lives.
a) A key to the reading:
“Watch!” This is the key word in the short passage that the Church presents for the liturgy of the first Sunday of Advent. To watch, to stay awake, to wait for the return of the master of the house, not to sleep, this is what Jesus asks of a Christian. These four verses of the Gospel of Saint Mark are part of the eschatological discourse in chapter thirteen. This chapter speaks of the destruction of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus takes up a point from the observation made by a disciple: “Master, look at the size of those stones!” (Mk 13: 1). Jesus, then, clarifies the idea: “You see these great buildings? Not a single stone will be left on another; everything will be pulled down” (Mk 13: 2). The Temple, the tangible sign of the presence of God in the midst of his chosen people, Jerusalem “built as a city, in one united whole” where “the tribes go up, the tribes of Yahweh, a sign for Israel to give thanks to the name of Yahweh” (Ps 122: 4), all this, the sure sign of the promise made to David, sign of the covenant, all this will be destroyed…it is only a sign of something else to come. The disciples, rendered curious, ask the Lord who is sitting on the mount of Olives in front of the Temple: “Tell us, when is this going to happen, and what sign will there be that it is all about to take place?” (Mk 13: 4). After the Jewish apocalyptic style inspired by Daniel, Jesus limits his reply to proclaiming the warning signs (false christs and prophets who will deceive by proclaiming the coming of the imminent times, persecutions, signs in the powers of heaven. cf.: Mk 13: 5-32), “But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father” (Mk 13: 32).
This leads us to understand the importance of a watchful and attentive waiting for the signs of the times that help us to welcome the “master of the house” (Mk 13: 35). When he comes, all things will disappear, “the power of the servants” (Mk 13: 34) also the signs that help us remember his benevolence (temple, Jerusalem, house). When the master comes, the “servants” and “the doorkeeper” (Mk 13: 34) no longer care about the signs but take pleasure in the master himself: “Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him” (Mt 25: 6 + Mk 2: 19-20).
Jesus often asked his disciples to watch. In the garden of Olives, on the Thursday night just before the passion, the Lord says to Peter, James and John: “Wait here, and stay awake” (Mk 14: 34; Mt 26: 38). Watching helps us not to fall into temptation (Mt 26: 41) but to stay awake. In the garden of Olives, the disciples fall asleep because the flesh is weak even though the spirit is willing (Mk 14: 38). Anyone who sleeps goes to ruin, like Samson who allowed himself to be put to sleep, thus losing his strength, the gift of God (Jud 16: 19). We must stay awake always and not fall asleep, and watch and pray that we may not be deceived and thus go to our perdition (Mk 13: 22 + Jn 1: 6). Thus “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph 5: 14).
b) Questions to orientate the meditation and make it relevant:
● What does watching mean to you?
● The Lord foretells the destruction of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem, the pride of the chosen people and symbols of the presence of God. Why does Jesus foretell their destruction?
● The Temple and the holy city were concrete forms of the covenant between God and his people. But these have gone through destruction. What are our concrete forms of the covenant? Do you think they will experience the same fate?
● Jesus calls us to transcend all forms and to attach ourselves to him. What things, forms and signs do you think the Lord is asking you to transcend so as to attach yourself more closely to him?
● Are you asleep? In what sense?
● Do you live always in expectation of the coming of the Lord? Is Advent a time for you to remember the element of waiting in the life of a Christian?
a) Psalm 96:
O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols;
but the Lord made the heavens.
Honour and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in holy array;
tremble before him, all the earth!
Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!
Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity."
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.
b) Moments for a prayerful silence:
We give you thanks, O God our Father, for your son Jesus who came to raise us up and set us on the right way. When you awaken in our hearts a thirst for prayer and loving service, you prepare us for the dawn of that new day when our glory will be made manifest with all the saints in the presence of the Son of Man.
Contemplation means to know how to adhere with one’s whole heart and mind to the Lord who through his Word transforms us into new persons who always do his will. “Now that you know this, blessed are you if you behave accordingly.” (Jn 13: 17)