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Congregation for the Clergy on the First Sunday of Advent: Stay Awake, the Lord Comes

By Vatican Congregation for the Clergy
November 27th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are called to be vigilant because we do not know the 'precise moment' when the master will return to the house.  The 'house' can be seen as an image of the Christian community which prepares itself with vigilance through prayer and works, to welcome the master.  The 'house' can also be thought of as the spiritual dwelling of each of us that needs to be built daily.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - "What I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!" (Mark 13: 37)

The whole of the Advent liturgy is centred on humanity's 'keeping vigil' as it is through an authentically humble and trusting spirit of prayer that we prepare ourselves to welcome the coming of Our Lord Jesus. 

All humanity, and particularly Christians, should predispose themselves to welcome 'the master of the house' by having an attitude of 'vigilant waiting'.

St Basil said in this regard "Be vigilant every day and every hour in order to be  ready to perfectly fulfil that which is pleasing to God, knowing that in the hour we do not expect, the Lord will come."  Our attitude is not passive, sterile or 'dead' but living, active and participative. 

Humanity participates in the same coming of the Lord in a particular way: "the witness to Christ has indeed been strong among you." (1 Corinthians 1:6).

Therefore, we not only wait for Christ, but call out to him too "Lord, you are our Father."  Humanity, recognising that having sinned by not invoking God as Father and so having merited that God should have hid his face, calls on him to return "for love of his servants". 

We abandon ourselves totally into the hands of our Lord, because: "we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hand." (cf Isaiah 64: 6-7).

We cannot do other than thank God that we are "enriched in so many ways, especially in your teachers and preachers" (1 Corinthians 1:5), so that we will be found "without blame on the last day".

Therefore we are called to be vigilant because we do not know the 'precise moment' when the master will return to the house. 

The 'house' can be seen as an image of the Christian community which prepares itself with vigilance through prayer and works, to welcome the master. 

The 'house' can also be thought of as the spiritual dwelling of each of us that needs to be built daily.

Everyone must also take care to complete the work that God has entrusted to them, watching that they will not find themselves unprepared for the Lord when he comes. 

The season of Advent calls us to strengthen our spirit of prayer, carefully fighting the negligence and the weakness that makes us yield to sin.

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote in his spiritual diary that to be vigilant with Christ is to look ahead without forgetting the past.  It is not to forget that He has suffered for us, it is to lose ourselves in contemplation of the grandeur of redemption. 

It is to continually renew the passion and agony of Christ - to cover with joy that mantle of affliction that Christ wore first and then left behind when he ascended into heaven.  It is separation from this sensible world to join the life beyond the senses.  This is how Christ will come, and come in the way he has said.

We ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of waiting and silence, to accompany us in this beautiful time of Advent. 

She, who more than all other creatures knew how to humbly welcome God's Will, permitting therefore the work of redemption, will sustain us in our prayer, our works, and the authentic renewal of the body of the Church in holiness.

Citations of

Is 63,16b-17.19b;64,2b-7: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9axfcyea.htm   
1Co 1,3-9: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abtbba.htm
Mc 13,33-37:    www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9btanim.htm

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