In the gospel, Jesus tells us to be vigilant as we wait for His coming. Since He will be away for only a short time, we should do our tasks while He is absent. As he will return at an unknown hour, we should be ready whenever He comes back.
Our waiting can be self-destructive, or it can be creative. Our waiting during Advent is self-destructive if we have no future goal to hope for. Then our waiting becomes like that of a prisoner who sees no end to his confinement, an alcoholic who sees no escape from his addiction or an unemployed worker who sees no opportunity for a job.
Our waiting during Advent can be creative if we have a future goal to look forward to some thing or person to hope in. This, of course, is Jesus Christ, whose coming we celebrate at Christmas.
Notice that in the gospel only the man at the gate was ordered to watch while waiting for the master’s return. The others were left tasks to do while waiting. If our Advent waiting is to be creative, then we have to do something active.
For example, we have to take some initiative to pray so that the Lord can open our eyes to see our need for His coming as Savior. We have to be energetic about using the sacraments so that the Holy Spirit can increase our desire for the coming of Christ and expand our hearts to welcome Him. We have to be enthusiastic about social action so that the power of God can become operative in the world and enable us to change conditions like war, poverty and injustice.
If we don’t do these things, then our waiting comes self-destructive. Pride fills the vacuum left by the lack of prayer. Secularism replaces our sense of the sacred that accompanies the Sacraments. Selfishness suffocates the ideal of sharing demanded by social action.
Pray that our Advent waiting will not be self-destructive, but creative—that is, characterized by prayer, the sacraments and social action. May the Lord protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ at Christmas.