Advent is a time of anticipation and prepares us for the coming of Christ: both the anticipation of Christ’s second coming which is the focus of the first weeks and the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. Mark tells us to “watch!” “be alert!” Advent is also a reminder to be alert to Jesus who comes to us continuously through the presence of others.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (13:33-37)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful Be alert! you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leave home and place his serant in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming whether in the evening or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
I chose to read the Gospel because as I reflected on this passage and read about the Columbian conflict that lasted for 50 years, I could not help but think that the people of Columbia live this gospel every day. While they may not have lived in anticipation of the Second Coming or of the birth of the Christ Child at Christmas, I imagine that not knowing when rebels would attack or enter the village would keep one very watchful and alert. Witnesses tell of family members who were murdered or disappeared. According to a 50-year-old female from the Village of La 40, “The conflict has brought a lot of violence, violence in deaths, disappearances, and financially also. Why do I say disappearances? Because my husband disappeared in 2006 and I am also a victim because they killed my son. He was killed in 2010, that is, I do not know how he died. We say that he was poisoned, but he was taken there to camp six and was poisoned there and died. This has brought a lot of pain for me and for many people and for all the victims.”
Even though a Peace Accord has been signed by the National Government and the FARC (the largest of the armed revolutionary groups) people are still watchful and alert. To overcome the people’s skepticism and distrust of the State will take a tremendous effort. For this reason, the Columbian Dominicans are committed to reinforcing the work they have been doing for so many years by providing spiritual support and assisting the growth of autonomous and participative communities to be the presence of Jesus. Dominicans throughout the world will be standing and praying is solidarity with them. We invite you to join us and keep the people of Columbia in your prayers this Advent Season.