Watchful and Alert

First Sunday of Advent (B)

Children were lining up for snacks. On the tray of apples was a note: Get one each only. God is watching. So the children did. When the children reached the tray of chocolate candies, one boy said: you can get as many as you can. God is watching the apples (a. u.).

One of the meanings the dictionary gives to the word “to watch” is to keep attention on something and/or be attentive to someone over a period of time. In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us to be watchful and to be alert, for we do not know when the time will come. It is not keeping watch on what we like to have, like the children on the chocolate candies, but keeping watch and being alert on what Jesus wants us to have and to be, and what Jesus is teaching us.

If we take that meaning in our relation with the Lord, we have to pay attention to His Words in our thoughts, words and actions, in our families, in our work, in our relationships over this short period of time given to us in this world.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul proclaims to us several exhortations:

1. “In Him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge….” (1Cor 1:5). God enriches us with the virtues of faith, hope and charity. Our Catechism teaches us that

by faith, we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief (CCC 1842); by hope we desire, and with steadfast trust await from God, eternal life and the graces to merit it (CCC 1843); by charity, we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God (CCC1844).

Indifference, ingratitude, lukewarmness to love, spiritual sloth, and pride are some sins that we commit against God who gave us the gifts of faith, hope and charity.

2. “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 1:8). When Solomon was made king of Israel, God asked him what he would like to receive from Him. Solomon did not ask for riches, power, or fame. All he asked from God was wisdom to rule His people. Because God was so pleased with his request, He gave Solomon wisdom that nobody in the world ever had or would ever have, as well as riches, power and fame.

The 4 virtues we call “cardinal virtues” keep us firm to the end. They are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. “If anyone loves righteousness, [Wisdom’s] labors are virtues; for she teaches temperance and prudence, justice, and courage” (Wis 8:7) (CCC 1805).

a) Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it…. Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas (CCC 1806).

b) Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life (CCC 1808).

c) Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor (CCC 1807).

d) Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods…. We ought to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world (CCC 1809).

 3. “You were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1Cor 1:9). Jesus entrusted to us His Church and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist that we celebrate now. He gave us the Scriptures to read, pray and live. He gave us one another so that we can be signs of faith and hope, and so that we can strengthen one another in a world full of deceit and dishonesty.

Just as Jesus hosts the Banquet of Life in the celebration of the Eucharist, He will also host for us the Great Banquet in the Kingdom of our Father in the life to come. “Be watchful. Be alert.” The Lord is coming; and He has actually come.

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