Every year, advent starts with a warning “Be Watchful, Be alert!”
In the reading of the first Sunday from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is not threatening us but instructing us to stay prepared because we do not know the hour when we will see him face to face.
At one definitive point in history Jesus will be coming again. When the old is dismantled, the new is ushered in. Jesus promises us in His Kingdom ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Rev 21:4).
But Jesus also warns that not everyone will be able to abide the Presence of God (Rev 21:6-8); to ‘stand before the son of Man’ (Lk 21:36). That is why the worst response we can give at the beginning of Advent is ‘I’m too busy’.
Now of course we wouldn’t use such words but our choices, lifestyle and our tendency to pursue excessive pleasure and to be alienated by the ‘worries in life’ show up in actions if not in words. Let’s guard against a life which says ‘not now, I’m too busy’.
As we wait, let us remember that Advent is a season of expectation beginning four Sundays out from Christmas to prepare our hearts to celebrate and remember the faithfulness of God.