“Watch” is the key verb in the new Church year beginning December 3, the 1st Sunday of Advent. Advent reminds us we live in between Jesus’ first coming at Bethlehem and his promised return.
A doorkeeper is the focus of the gospel for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Mark 13.33-37, a person charged to welcome the owner home at an unknown time. A doorkeeper keeps watch at a threshold, a place with an outside and an inside, a liminal space where we meet the future and create it with our choices and actions.
A door is where we open our homes and ourselves to guests. We open our doors many times in the Advent season for guests at family gatherings, office parties, caroling events, cookie decorating…Our hearts open and close as doors do, letting people in, keeping them out.
The gospel parable cautions us the owner may return at any time—in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. Interestingly, in Mark’s gospel, the four times unfold in Jesus’ passion, which begins in the next chapter. Jesus prays in the garden after the last supper, asking that the cup of suffering pass while his closest male disciples sleep. At midnight temple officials arrest Jesus and his men disciples flee. At cockcrow Peter realizes and regrets he has denied even knowing Jesus. At morning the women disciples find Jesus’ tomb empty.
The encounters that await Jesus’ disciples catch them asleep, on the run, in denial, and in awe. Use the parable to watch at the doors of your encounters with others.
Watch at the door of encounter.