Being a watchman

“Watch, for you do not know when the time will come; watch, for you do not know when the master of the house will return; I say to you all: watch.

Mark 13:35 


We are entering the beautiful season of Advent. The word “Advent” means coming, that is, “that which is to come”. Advent is therefore the time of preparation for the feast of Christmas when we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ, some 2000 years ago. We are invited, by this text from the Word of God, to wait for what is to come by keeping watch, by exercising our vigilance. The month of December, as well as the special season in which we live is therefore marked by the expectation of what is to come. It is important to be more ready than ever for the coming of Jesus, just as a family is ready for the arrival of a new child.

In this chapter of Mark 13, we notice the imperative form three times with which Jesus challenges his disciples. Beware, stay awake! All power has been given to you, as to the servants of the man who went on a journey, but now he is coming back, “whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn”. So, watch! The disciples are challenged as partners of the master who is leaving… They are thus confronted with their responsibility “all power has been given to you”, in their freedom to act: Take heed, and watch! for the Lord returns unexpectedly, and He wants to find you blameless on His day. The message is strong but full of hope, nothing is lost.

At first glance, keeping watch does not seem to be easy or natural. Indeed, keeping watch is not self-evident. In general, when we keep watch, it is at night, to guard someone or something. Keeping watch is not always exciting, because often nothing happens, and that is usually the best the watchman can hope for. However, the watchman will experience something profound while he is in an attitude of openness. 

To watch is to remain open to the presence of God in our lives. Watching is not missing the essential. To watch is also to act, to be active today, so that the Kingdom of God may grow! To watch is to be careful not to fall asleep in the easy way of doing things, in negligence, in compromise. To watch is to know how to stop and to have all one’s senses on the alert to discern a discreet presence. To watch is not to remain passive, telling oneself that what must happen will happen anyway. To watch is not to be agitated in every direction. To watch is to remain open to God’s unexpected. 

Watching is first of all being attentive to what precedes the coming of the Lord in our lives. Each day, each minute can be important! It is in our daily life that we must be vigilant, it is in each of our encounters that we can sow a little of God’s light. It is every day that we can give of ourselves… It is every day that we can take care of others.

While we are in this hopeful expectation, Jesus tells us in this last verse: “What I say to you, I say to all of you, watch. (Mark 13:37)

Prayer: These next 4 Sundays, I will propose 4 different prayers written by people coming from different denominations, allowing us to remember also in this Advent period that the unity of Christians is on the heart of God who sent this wonderful Savior Jesus for all humanity. 

Make us watchmen

Lord, at the beginning of Advent, come and awaken our weary hearts, shake our spiritual torpor. Give us to listen again to the whispers of your Spirit, who prays, watches and hopes in us. Lord, revive our expectation, the active vigilance of our faith so that we may commit ourselves wherever life is scorned, love trampled, hope threatened, man despised.

Lord, in this time of Advent, make us watchmen who prepare and hasten the coming and ultimate triumph of your Kingdom, that of the reign of Love.

God has chosen to make himself wait

God, you have chosen to make yourself wait for the whole time of an Advent.

I do not like waiting in line.

I don’t like waiting for my turn.

I don’t like waiting for the train.

I don’t like waiting to judge.

I don’t like waiting for the moment.

I don’t like waiting for another day.

I don’t like to wait because I don’t have time and I only live in the moment.

You know it well besides, everything is made to avoid me waiting: the credit cards and the self-service, credit sales and vending machines, phone calls and instant photos, telex and computer terminals, television and radio flashes…

I don’t have to wait for the news, it precedes me.

But you, God, have chosen to make yourself wait for a whole Advent.

Because you made waiting the space of conversion, the face to face with what is hidden, the wear and tear that does not wear out.

Waiting, only waiting, waiting for waiting, intimacy with the waiting that is in us because only waiting awakens attention and only attention is capable of loving.

Everything is already given in waiting, and for you, God, waiting is united with prayer.

Father Jean Debruynne

A priest of the Mission of France, general chaplain of the Guides de France and the Scouts de France (among other movements) for many years, Father Debruynne is known for his talents as a poet (inspired by Jacques Prévert) and writer.

Quote: To watch is to remain open to the presence of God in our lives.

Song: Adore Him (Live) – The McClures / Christmas Morning

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