The man in the gospel parable was dealing with the unknown and the hidden. He did not know at what hour the master would return. Knowing human nature, Jesus imagines that the servant, and gatekeeper, would become lax and not take seriously his responsibility – his stewardship. Jesus tells us ‘Be watchful! Be alert!”
Today we are those servants, that gatekeeper, and Jesus tells us “Be watchful! Be alert!” Today we begin four weeks of preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Lord, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Jesus says those words to us so that we will prepare for His coming, and not look back at the celebration of his birth and think, or say, “If only I had …” The time is now, and we must be attentive to the opportunities for grace that the Lord provides for us during these days.
One of the riches of this season of Advent, for me, has been to possess a growing awareness of the presence of the Lord in and among us. If we take the time of Advent seriously each day should bring us a greater awareness of His ‘coming’ – not His first coming at His birth, or at His second coming at the end of time, but – here and now! The challenge continues – are we watchful and alert to recognize Him?
Throughout salvation history so much emphasis has been placed – rightfully so – on the first coming of Jesus Christ at His birth. Likewise, throughout salvation history so much emphasis has been placed – rightfully so – on the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time.
But, what about the coming each day?
An important source of this awareness of His presence is recognizing how God has blessed us. It is vital to identify the moments we were watchful and alert. These blessed memories help us to prepare ourselves for future encounters with God, future opportunities, ways in the future that God wants to be “the potter”, if we are willing to be the “clay”.
Our own experience of regret for those lost moments of grace, can also make us more watchful and alert, so that the unknown and the hidden does not take us by surprise. Before we know it we will be back here celebrating the birth of the Lord. However, only if we are watchful and alert will these days be days of grace that allows His presence to come to ourselves, to others, and to the world, in and through us.
Bogdan Jański learned to be watchful, and to be alert. It was not a ‘natural’ for him, and perhaps is not for us either. Yet, he learned ‘the hard way’, through suffering and doubt, and through a sinful past. His new life of grace he shared with others, to bring them into that same life of grace of the Lord. May we also be watchful and be alert, for the Lord comes!