November 26, 2011

1st Sunday of Advent - B

Mark 13: 33-37

We Are In Charge

Today, Jesus uses a parable to teach his followers the appropriate attitude they should have while they wait for "the lord of the house" to return.

The command to "watch" can give the wrong connotation of a passive waiting for disaster to happen. That, however, does not seem to be Jesus' intention.

In the parable, the lord of the house,
before leaving, "places his servants in charge, each with his own work." He trusts them. And each of them is entrusted with a task to do. This trust does not suggest passivity or fear as the attitude the servants should have.

For the disciples of Christ, the parable takes on a new meaning when read in the context of the Gospel of Mark. There, this parable is Jesus' very last teaching before the events of his last Passover, when he is betrayed, arrested, and crucified. During these fateful events, the disciples fail miserably. First, they could not stay awake when Jesus was praying, even though he has told them to "remain here and keep watch" (14: 34). Then, one of them betrays him, the leader denies knowing him, and the rest all run for their lives.

Yet, to these very disciples, who have failed miserably, Jesus entrusts each with a task to do.
In fact, it is the most important task. They are to continue his mission.

Prior to this parable, Jesus tells them in 13: 9 - 10, to preach the Gospel "to all nations" with the warning, "
“Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them." [1]

Then, the Gospel ends as Jesus repeats the command, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature" before his ascension (16: 15).

Passive waiting is not an option here. We, the followers of Christ, have been given a great mission. And it is given out of his trust for us, no matter how often we are not worthy of it.

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002; p. 271-272.

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