Monday, December 14, 2009


This is an extract from an Advent address given by Fr Colin who is Superior of the Community of the Servants of the Will of God, in the U.K. I have taken it from the Advent 2008 edition of the Church Observer, magazine of the Church Union. Go HERE to their we bite. His text is Mark 13.32-37: Of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. 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. 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 - lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch."

Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting to celebrate the coming of Christ as a child, born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem. It is a time of renewing our conviction that he will come again, to judge the world, and that his coming will be in power and great glory. We do not know when that will be, as he himself has told us that no one knows. Yet we still have to long for it and wait for it, and not settle down and think that because it has been such a long time, it will never happen. As he says in that gospel reading, each of us has our work to do and in doing that, we will keep ourselves ready.

All through Advent the bible readings and the hymns say the same thing - keep awake, be on your guard, lift up your heads, stand erect, look. Our first task, then, in keeping watch, is to remain faithful, to strengthen our faith through prayer, the scriptures, worship and service. We have to look at the priorities in our lives, how we use our time, how we use the opportunities that are given to us to love and care for others, how we work to build up the Church.

We have to notice what we do and say, we have to notice what we think, and we have to test that against the Gospel. When we notice that there is a disparity, then we have to repent, turn again in the right direction, look towards the Lord afresh. We have to exercise a responsibility for ourselves and for what we are but not get despondent when we feel we are not making a very good job of what we know God wants us to be because then we start looking down, turning away from him who is our hope.

All around us is a lot of despair, terrible suffering, much deep unhappiness. It comes right into our homes on the television and in the newspapers. We feel helpless in the face of it, the sheer complexity and size of it. The second task in keeping watch is not to let it get us down. There needs to be much com-passion and love, much prayer and doing what we can in practical ways - but we mustn’t let the fear and despair get inside us.

The celebration of the birth of Christ can help us to prevent that happening. He came, born of the Virgin Mary, poor, humble, vulnerable, small. This coming in extraordinary simplicity was God’s way of coming and sharing in our life and this shows us that he knows about all the pain and grief in the world, for he has been part of it himself.

Through his cross, resurrection and ascension to the Father, he has over-come death, the greatest fear, the greatest cause of despair, and opened up for us the way to return to the Father. It began in that simple, humble way. So we don’t have to worry about feeling small, insignificant, helpless. God himself has been like that.


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