The First Sunday of Advent -- 2002-2003

The Necessity of Watching and Prayer

December 1st, 2002

By

Deacon Br. Anthony of Mary in the Wilderness
Benedictine Community of Saint Anthony
Stevensville, Montana
 
 

TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 13:33-37


The necessity of the commands of Jesus for -- watching and prayer -- is not merely linked to the salvation we may enjoy through our Lord Jesus Christ in eternity.


We are not just speaking of the salvation that awaits the faithful in eternity. This watching and waiting especially works wonders for the faith in the here and now, the practical today!


The necessity of prayer is linked directly to our spiritual survival in a world that is working over time to keep us from the glorious privilege of union with God alone in the here and now with eternity!


The distractions of life are manifold and the enemy of our souls would like to keep us pre-occupied with the distractions of life and our places in union with God. St. Teresa of Avila spoke of these distractions in "Interior Castle," a book well worth reading and praying over.


Prayer changes things, because GOD listens and answers prayers as we move closer to God..


The Responsorial Psalm said -- "Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved." That salvation speak not only of the future, glorious as that will be, but it speaks of the salvation we see NOW in Jesus, for his name means -- Salvation!


We need Jesus every moment of the day.


We need all the graces of God every day.


We need to abide in the Vine, and, be nourished as the branches. For, without Jesus we can do nothing.


This is the constant witness of all the saints through the ages.


This is also the consistent prayer of the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours.


Here we have a shortened form of last Sunday's homiletic reflection...it carries with it a powerful message of hope and praxis.


Praxis (means, practical application, our responsive actions) is where we must LIVE, if we are to SURVIVE the attacks of the enemy of our souls, as he attacks the remnant of her offspring (cf. Revelation, chapter 12).


33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come.


Nobody knows when Jesus will return, or when the times of trial will come.


They are in motion so to speak such that, only God alone knows the day of his justice and judgment.


Our vocation is to watch and wait in prayer, making secure our souls, as we see the day approaching, for it surely will, because God said it and that settles it. Faith knows this fact, because we know God's words are true through the Holy Spirit. Our feelings much follow our faith in the facts of the words of God.


Without God we can do nothing.


Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth!


34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.


Let us guard the gates.


In our little emerging Benedictine Community of Saint Anthony, the Prior is the gatekeeper, who guards the door of the community from intruders who would disturb the peaceful hermitage of the brothers. We have few brothers today, but the numbers will increase and demand greater vigilance in the task of the "guardian" of the gate.


All of us can learn from this -- Let us guard our "gates", the eyes, the ears, the nose, the mouth, the touch from that which pollutes and causes damage to our souls! Let is all be "brother and sister guardians" for our souls, and, seek the good of each other in our varied communities of faith into the Third Millennium!


God has promised -- and he will be with us always, even unto the end of the age!


35 Watch therefore--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning--


We do not have all of the information, "deo gratia", because we would probably misuse the information we did have through sloth or neglect.


Why do I say this?


The propensity of people is to procrastinate, to put off until the last minute. It seems, as I have observed over my own 55 years, as I write these reflections, that more often than not, we tend to put off our best interest until the last minute, wasting time on everything that will eventually be burnt up in Purgatory and the Last Judgment.


Nothing we count dear to our souls today, the television, the games we enjoy, the luxuries we relish for ourselves, etc., will mean anything when we stand face to face with God alone!


Nothing will be so important as the eternal state of our soul when reality hits and we stand before God alone with whatever talents we have to show for God alone!


Will we have buried our talents and slept?


Will we be found to be sluggards in our spirituality?


36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.

37 And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."


The illustration here alludes to military watch.


In the country of Viet Nam when I was there a number of years ago -- I knew many Marines who were on watch, guarding the perimeter of the compound. As a Hospital Corpsman in the middle of the night, I also watched -- for the watches were "long." I would help the Marines by going out and walking the lines, making sure they were all awake, taking coffee to them. It was a roving patrol that I volunteered to do, instead of sleeping through the night. I watched with them. In a sense, I was learning this issue of becoming a "guardian brother" at in my early 20's.


Later that year, when I no longer was assigned these duties, and in another location entirely, there was another Marine, "Joe D," that became very tired on perimeter watch one night and an enemy "sapper" go through a killed him as he slumbered. May this sacrifice never be what happens to us spiritually.


I saw his name and wept when I visited the Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC. He was a good man who lost his life at a young age.


Let us watch and be sober, for we do not know the hour when we will be called to give an account for our stewardship.


Let us pray that we might find again a new relish for the things of God and not slumber and sleep as the world does.




Deus et Sanctissima.





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