Gospel Reflection for November 29, 2020 – 1st Sunday of Advent

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 63.16-17,19; 64.2-7; 1 Corinthians 1.3-9; Mark 13.33-37
“Stay awake — for you do not know when the owner of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn or else the owner may comes suddenly and find you asleep.   What I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” – Mark 13.35-37
As chapter 13 of Mark’s gospel begins, Jesus’ disciples admire the beauty of the temple but Jesus prophesies that it will not stand. Jesus tells them and us that we live in a birthing process. Wars, earthquakes, famines, trials, betrayals are birth pangs.

Sunday’s gospel comes near the end of the chapter. Jesus insists no one knows when the appointed time will come. The gospel parable warns that the owner who leaves servants on watch may return at any time, evening, midnight, cockcrow, and dawn. These times anticipate threshold moments in the journey Jesus’ disciples make with him during his passion.

Peter, James and John accompany Jesus to the garden to pray after the last supper. As Jesus agonizes over the cup he must drink, they sleep. He wakes them twice and again they doze off. 

It’s midnight when Judas betrays Jesus, leading a crowd to arrest him. The other disciples flee except Peter, who follows Jesus to the high priest’s house. When a maid suggests he is with Jesus, Peter denies it. A cock crows. Peter weeps in regret. At dawn Mary Magdalene and other women who follow Jesus find his tomb empty and hear he is risen, news so unexpected they are beside themselves in amazement.

On this 1st Sunday of Advent the new Church year begins and the gospel invites us to wait intentionally at the threshold of the future. Jesus’ words promise that he, like the estate owner in Sunday’s gospel, will return. Our faith calls us to embody hope and practice love in our world.
With what time of day in the parable do you identify? How will you participate in birthing peace in the world this Advent?