Painting: Felix Henri Giacomotti, Dating
Isaiah 63: 16-17.19; 64: 2-7
I Corinthians 1: 3-9
Markus 13: 33-37
“Hopefully he doesn’t come suddenly and find you sleeping”
Time is an important thing in human life. In the seventh century AD; Isidorus, Bishop of Seville, tries to discuss and explain what it is or what day it is. Scholarships and research did not advance much in their time; guesswork and imagination play a big role in his work:
The day is the presence of the sun; either the sun is above the earth as well as the night when the sun is under the earth. The proper day is twenty-four hours starting from sunrise to sunset. The day, according to Egypt started at sunset but according to Persians at sunrise; according to Athens in the sixth hours of evening; according to the Romans in the middle of the night. The names of the days are taken from the star. The first day of Romans is from the Sun which is the first star among the stars. The second day of Roman is the Moon whose brilliance and magnitude are nearest to the Sun. The third is called Vesper (evening star) taken from the planet Mars. The fourth is from the star Mercury. The fifth is from the star Jupiter. The sixth is from the planet Venus called the morning star, which they call it, which is observed among all the other planets and has the most light. The seventh is taken from the star Saturn. The part of the day is three: morning, noon, and evening. Morning is the full and early light, not already twilight. Noon is the middle day. The evening is the last part of the day when the sun sinks in the west. Today is this day; tomorrow is what is next; yesterday is the day before; the day before is the same as yesterday. The night is said to harm because it harms the eyes.
Today we are in the first Advent. By entering the first advent we begin a new liturgical calendar, a new time of the liturgical year. It is always started with the hope of the coming of Christ. The reason is that Christ is the savior of humankind and our hope and faith are based on that fact. Then, Advent is colored by the hope of the coming of Christ and the first meaning of Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of him.
Today Jesus says: Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. Be watchful, be alert means to have consciousness of the coming of him in mind, in heart, and in spirit during the passing time. This definition, of course, rejects forgetfulness and unpreparedness. By this understanding, it is not easy for us –the servant- to wait for the coming of the lord of the house traveling abroad. The lord of the house could come in the evening, or at midnight or, at cockcrow or in the morning. During those times we could be sleeping. Sleeping means -in the words of Isaiah- we harden our heart so that we -the servant- do not fear God- the lord of the house. In sleeping, none calls God name because the hardened heart shuts down the mind and the spirit that are waiting for the lord of the house. In sleeping how can the servant see and prepare for the coming of the lord? So, by sleeping the unfaithful servant carves the passing time by abandoning God, and fulfills the passing time by ridiculous actions that make him forget his responsibility as the servant. During the passing time, his life is like polluted rags and withered like leaves and the guilt carries him like the wind. Lamentation is the wage for the sleeping servant because when the lord comes, he finds his servant sleeping.
All of us, of course, want to be faithful servants. But how could we be faithful servant who is always alert and watchful? It is by the narrative. Narrative means we speak stories, we tell stories about our faith during the passing time in life. Revelation has to be declared; faith has to be communicated. Declaration and communication of faith also revelation informally and effectively are manifested through speaking or telling stories. The narrative has effects either on the narrator or the hearers. From the side of the hearers: someone who heard then accepts the stories of faith including either personal-individual experiences or teachings reveals that the good news-the gospel has entered his life and it means salvation has come down in his life. Now from the side of the narrator: by narrative, the narrator is enriched in every way with all discourse and knowledge. The narrator prepares and reflects on his experiences under the light of faith and by doing this he gains new knowledge and discourse. For this reason, his heart, his mind, and his faith are sharpened by God’s spirit. Indeed, the richness of discourse and knowledge of God deliver the narrator to always remember who he is, what he must do, and stick to his true identity as Isaiah’s prophet said: Lord you are our father, we are the clay and you the potter, we are all the work of your hands. By telling the stories, the narrator’s identity reaffirms and renews time by time. This means that the narrative puts him in consciousness so that he is alert and watchful and also is not being slept. Then, the narrative opens the mystery of God: God’s identity that is God is our father and God is the potter. God as our father and as the potter wants to show that during the passing time God is perfecting us like the potter who works to create, shape, and perfects the clay. God always is nearest to us and protects us as the father who is alert and watchful to his children at every moment. The time is the grace divulging that we are all the work of God’s hands and God’s children. We know God’s mystery and the grace of time because we tell stories of faith or through narrative.
The narrative can be done in three ways: the first one is to pray. Praying is to speak, to tell a story to God about the moments that happen in daily life, about the needs, struggles, etc. In prayer, we speak to God about you, me, and the other which can be concluded as we, us that are under God. So, actually praying is narrative. The second is to give a testimony of faith. Testimony reveals a story of faith declared to the other. It is to recall the faithful events that happen in life personally, then to be shared with the other. So does not it mean narrative? The third one is doing a good action, doing charitable action because the action is to tell a story by manifested word. Doing good action is the actualization of the narrative. We are no longer the witness but now we are the doer of faith. Definitely, by narrative, the narrator becomes an alert and faithful servant.
Truly, God is not hidden from the faithful servant. His ear has ever heard the voice of revelation; his eyes have ever seen the grace and peace of Jesus Christ. He does not care about the time of the coming of the lord of the house. The reason is by narrative he knows that Jesus Christ himself keeps him to the end, irreproachable on the day of Lord Jesus Christ; through narrative, he understands and feels that God is faithful in mind, heart, and spirit. The hope in the book of Isaiah: would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways is done and actual because of Jesus Christ. Then, there is no wonder again; there is no fear of sleeping. It is heard the whisper of a faithful servant in the passing time like in Psalm: God, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we will be saved. Therefore, Advent is a sweet and joyful time to prepare to welcome the Lord of the House: Jesus Christ.
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