“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the gatekeeper to be on the watch.”

Mark 13:34

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Mark 13:33-37

Just before this Gospel Jesus told the story of the fig tree and how we should pay attention to the turning of the seasons. Similarly, we should notice the signs of the end times around us.

With this parable of a man going on a journey, Jesus is building on the parable of the fig tree found in the earlier pericope, Mark 13:28–29. He is not just talking about the end times, but the judgement that will occur. The owner has put his servants in charge, “each with his work”. We are to be alert and watchful for the Lord has put the doorkeeper in charge. He will judge who has been faithful.

Mention of the gatekeeper reminds us of the parable of the fig tree where we were told “when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” I think that this is a metaphor for the time after his Ascension. It references the Church. They are servants to the man (the Son of Man, Jesus), and the gatekeeper is a reference to Peter and the successors to the Apostles.

Vigilance, being alert and watchful, is what is asked of us. Think of the trust that the man shows his servants. Unlike the parable of the talents, we are not told here to be productive. Rather we are trusted and asked to be on the lookout for how God is working in our lives and the lives of those people we come into contact with.

How have we lived up to that trust? In the final judgement, how will our lives be reckoned? Can we say we have kept God’s commands?

We are not slaves to a bad master, but as we hear Jesus affirm later, servants and friends of the Lord. Therefore our account must start with the thanksgiving of the trust that has been placed in us. We have not earned this trust – it is something that the Lord recognises as belonging innately to us.

As we continue to try and find hope, let’s rejoice today in the trust the Lord puts in us. Let us work together with, and pray for, our ‘gatekeeper’, Pope Francis, who is modelling for us how to build the bridges that our world so desperately needs.

Almighty God,

Enlighten our eyes so that we become aware of all the gifts with which you have blessed us. Help us realise the trust you have placed in us to share your love with others. Help us to live in the truth of that trust and love by helping us to love those closest to us.


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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