Advent should be a time of joy and expectations. We are waiting for the arrival of the Saviour. Jesus' warning words are rather meant as an admonition to take Him seriously. These words of Christ which we read on the first Sunday in Advent, at the beginning of the new liturgical year, encourage us to remain vigilant. They encourage us to start anew, not to repeat the same mistakes as last year. With this new year we are granted a new possibility which we can use in a good way and be careful not to waste.
What does it mean to be vigilant, to be alert? In this context it means that we are people with a conscience.
Conscience is the capacity in people which encourages or discourages them to act. Not because of the possible consequences, punishments or rewards, but because we are able to discern the inner truth and value of the action. A person who is able to be true to his or her conscience possesses an inner calm, a feeling of security, because he knows his actions are good.
"I am vigilant" means that I see my fellow human beings and am aware of his or her rights, needs and goodness.
This was the main task of the servant in the gospel text, to keep watch over the domestic servants and the whole house.
"I am vigilant" means that I am responsible.
We tend to trust a responsible person. We know that he or she carries out the duties imposed, even duties not imposed, but which needed doing. Such a person does not waste time and does not expect that others will take over. Such a person shows independent initiativ, and is willing to accept duties when the situation demands it.
The gospel of the first Sunday in Advent presents just such a person.
It is not just about being concerned with the work-place, society or family. All this is of course important, but such concerns must give way to matters concerning the Kingdom of God. This must always come first.
We often separate that which concerns Heaven and that which concerns ordinary life on earth. But God wants our ordinary lives to be concerned with His Kingdom, we should work to realize the Kingdom of God here on earth. God wants us to live a life of peace, justice, security and prosperity. He is willing to help us by giving us what is necessary. We must be vigilant to be able to make the most of these possibilities.
That is why Jesus turns to the faithful at the beginning of Advent and the new year and says: Awaken, be vigilant!
Let us therefore awaken and be vigilant!
The Son of Man, Saviour of the World, will arrive! Let us await Him filled with hope and joy!
Your parish priest and general vicar dom Albert Maczka