December 3, 2023 at St Peter the Apostle, St Agnes, and St William Churches in Naples, FL
Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19, 64:2-7 + Psalm 80 + 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9 + Mark 13: 33-37
“Watch” says Christ Jesus to us today. “Watch.” It is an experience that involves no activity. Doing it requires attention not action. There is nothing to do when you watch except pay attention. We know how that works. We’ve all watched things and people. We watch a football game, we watch children at play. We watch them grow up, and our loved ones grow old. We don’t do anything except pay attention and sometimes that’s the hard part, attention. I suspect that is why Jesus speaks so sternly and passionately to us his disciples. We get distracted and fail to pay attention. When that happens, we miss things, things that are important.
This season of Advent that we begin today is all about watching and paying attention. It is about focus on things that matter. It is about paying attention and therefore being attentive to the presence of God. It has nothing to do with “You better watch out, you better not cry because you know who is coming to town.” For that matter is not about something that tradition says happened in Bethlehem a long time ago. Neither is it just about a future that we sometimes call “The end of time.” It is about now, because the message of the Gospel is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. What is to come is already here. We have been too busy to watch and be attentive to the truth and the reality that by the Incarnation, by the birth of God’s son, God is no longer off in the clouds listening to angels sing. God has taken human flesh and human life, and we need to pay attention and watch; watch how powerfully and beautifully that human flesh and life can accomplish God’s wish for us to be one, to be love, to be healed, to be saved.
We are reminded today to watch, to pay attention to anyone, to any human life that fails to reveal Godliness. We are reminded today to pay attention to ourselves as well lest others fail to see God through our words and deeds. We need to watch that.
If we are watching and pay attention, we will not sleep. We will not sleep well when another who shares this life with us is sleeping on the street. If we are watching and paying attention to the hunger in this world, we will promote and encourage public policies that address human hunger rather than just feel badly cleaning our overloaded plates because Mom reminded us of starving children around the world.If we are watching as Christ Jesus insists, we will see what needs to be done for all who long to know the mercy of God. And, as we watch, we might do well to remember that God is watching too, watching to see whether or not we are sleep or awake and attentive. It would surely be better were we not found sleeping. On my part, I don’t think it would be an acceptable excuse.