“Be Watchful! Stay awake!”.

What should we look out for during this season of Advent and in our pilgrimage? The easy answer is that we should wait and watch for the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. However, we have forgotten that He was already born over two thousand years ago.

This question is important for it helps us focus on the important point of the Advent Season.

What are we watching for and waiting for? The answer is contained in the initial proclamation of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” There is no reason for Christ’s followers to be fearful, provided they are ready for Jesus’ return. If we are awake and ready, the coming of the Son of Man is an event to be greeted with joy.

We prepare for a deepening awareness of the Good News that we have a saviour. Our waiting and watching is in this context. However, this context of preparing for Christmas often times gets distorted by contradicting commercial messages saturating the season. Let this Advent season be the time of such preparation for the Lord’s coming.

The Gospel reminds us not be so foolish as to forget God and become immersed in worldly matters. We are reminded to be alert and prepare for the four-fold coming of Jesus into our lives, namely: at the celebration of His Incarnation during this Christmas season, in His active presence in our daily lives, at the moment of our death, and in his final coming in glory at the end of the world. Our whole life should be a preparation to meet the master. We base this constant watch not on fear but on hope in God’s promise of eternal life.

God’s word on this first Sunday of Advent invites us to think more than Christmas. We are waiting for the Day of the Lord. The message of Advent is an invitation and is also a challenge to us. We are called to be looking forward, to be ready, to be prepared and we are asked to wait in joyful hope.