“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”

Mark 13:33

Monday, 30 November 2020

Mark 13:33-37

Yesterday we celebrated the 1st Sunday of Advent and lit the first candle of our Advent Wreath, representing Hope. Our Gospel reading contained the message that we should be alert and watchful. In a sense, we have been on high alert and been watchful this whole year because of the pandemic. But that sort alertness and watchfulness is often sprung from a place of fear and trembling. This is not the watchfulness that Jesus is asking his Disciples.

When the Gospel of Mark was written, the Jewish Temple had been destroyed. The Romans were persecuting the Christians. Jesus is warning his followers to stay alert for the signs of the end times. The destruction of the temple and the end of the Jewish way of life that they had known troubled the people of the time. But the signs also signal when the Son of Man will come again.

Jesus is asking us to stay alert for we do not know the time of the second coming. First-generation Christians truly believed it would be in their lifetime. But as the years rolled on, they realized a different interpretation and understanding of these words was necessary.

We are called to vigilance, to continued hope, to try and notice God in all things, to watch for the signs in our own lives and experience of God’s presence to us. As long as we hope we will remain vigilant, we will remain alert and watchful. We must guard against fear and rather remind ourselves of how Jesus has already come into our lives. We must not forget the good deeds God has done for us. We must continue to hope.

How can I, during Advent, prepare for the coming of Christ into the world at Christmas? How can I reinforce hope in my life as we commemorate what happened all those years ago? We might not know the time of the second coming, but we consciously re-live the time of his first so that we can keep hope alive.

Almighty God,

Take away our fears, and help us to hope again and trust in your love for us. Let us see in the coming of your Son your desire that we should all be saved. Help our unbelief. Give us hope during this time of suffering so that all might return to you.


Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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