“Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn.”
Wednesday, 2 December 2020
One normally imagines a gatekeeper allowing someone access during the day. But Jesus is saying here that the master of the house (representing God’s reign or the Kingdom) can come at any time, evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn.
These references to the watches of the night and the time the cock crows naturally remind us of the coming of Jesus across the water when the disciples were filled with fear, and of Peter’s three-fold denial in the Temple precincts. How quickly the disciples forgot. They did not stay awake.
This wakefulness that we are called to is not a mindless waiting, but rather one that is expectant. It is waiting that is filled with the expectant presence of the one we are waiting for. We wait for Christ at Christmas. We must prepare ourselves by consciously waiting for Christ, looking for signs of him so that when he comes to us, we will feel his presence among us.
During this pandemic, many of us have had to adapt to spiritual communion. Before we may have taken Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, his Body, for granted. But now, as we wait and long for the time when we can receive him again, we become more attuned to his presence.
We have, I daresay, learnt to recognise the many other ways Christ is present to us. Before we may have been quite content to associate coming into his presence each week at Sunday Mass, a time and place we knew well. But now we notice God’s presence in unexpected moments. In the wonder of the skies or the beauty of creation, the warmth of friendship or the acceptance of love.
In staying awake, we notice the infinite number of ways that Christ reminds us that we are not alone. Even in our suffering, the fact that we await Christ at Christmas is a reminder to us of how we are not alone. God might not remove our sufferings, but he does not want us to go through them feeling alone and abandoned. He sent his Son and the Spirit to be with us precisely so that we would never be alone.