“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.”

Mark 13:35

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Mark 13:33-37

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.

Almighty God,

Help me notice all the ways you have been present to me during this past year. Help me to wait for you in a way that deepens the love between us. Save me from all doubt and fear and bless me with the sure hope and peace that only you can give.


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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