Advent 2021: Another Year of Our Long Watch

Eastern Mediterranean, seen from the ISS. (May 20, 2005) International Space Station program/JSC Earth Science-Remote Sensing Unit, ARES Division, Exploration Integration Science Directorate; via NASA, used w/o permission.

It’s that time of year. Daily reminders of how many shopping days remain before Christmas fill some with dread, others with relief. Folks enjoy, endure or try to ignore another season of “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Baby” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

Some of my neighbors have deployed their Christmas displays. So have we, thanks to my son. It’s part of our Advent preparations.

We’re getting ready for Christmas, looking back at the first time Jesus came; and ahead to when our Lord returns.

James E. Scarborough's and Trekkie4christ's liturgical year pie chart. (2014) via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.Since I’m a Catholic, I’ll be seeing purple during Mass. Or violet. The color’s name depends on who’s talking. Then, on the third Sunday of Advent, we’ll see rose instead of purple.

I gather that Pope Innocent III standardized those colors, just over eight centuries back.

Then the Council of Trent updated the rules in 1570, and that’s another topic.

Purple’s been a ‘royal’ color for at least two millennia, and that brings me to why Advent is a big deal.1


Wiley Miller's 'Non Sequitur,' Eddie and the rapture. (June 13, 2011) via, used w/o permissionAgain, during Advent we’re getting ready for Christmas.

We’re looking back about two millennia, to when the Son of God became one of us. And we’re looking ahead to when Jesus will come back.

About that, this isn’t another of those ‘End Times Bible Prophecies.’

We’ve known that our Lord is returning ever since he left. (Acts 1:11)

And some of us have tried second-guessing God the Father.

I don’t see the point, myself.

“‘But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father….”
(Matthew 25:13)

“‘But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father….'”
(Mark 13:3233)

I get the strong impression that information regarding the Second Coming is available on a need-to-know basis. And if the Son of God didn’t need to know, I certainly don’t.

Moving along.


John William Waterhouse's 'The Annunciation.' (1914) via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.

Recapping, Advent is a big deal because it’s when we prepare for Christmas.

Christmas is a big deal because it’s when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

And that’s a big deal because Jesus is the Son of God:

“…God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father….”
(What We Believe, Nicene creed, USCCB)

I’ve seen “consubstantial” translated as “one in Being.” Either way, the idea is that Jesus really is human and really is God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 456-460)

The Second Person of the Trinity became human so that we could know God’s love. And so that we could be saved. (Catechism, 456-478)

Mission to a Wounded World

Earth, seen from Rosetta spacecraft. (2015)If we were perfectly perfect people living in a perfectly perfect world, then we wouldn’t need saving.

But we’re not and we don’t, so we do.

I’d better explain that.

We’re not perfect, and neither is our world. But we’re not utterly depraved and this is not the worst of all possible worlds.

This universe is “very good.” But it’s also in a “state of journeying” — in statu viae. (Genesis 1:31; Catechism, 302)

We’re “very good” too, but we’re wounded. We’re dealing with consequences made by the first of us. We lost the harmony between ourselves, this world and God. But we didn’t stop being human. (Catechism, 385-412)

Letting ‘what I want’ outvote ‘what God says’ was a bad idea.

Along with the rest of humanity, I’ve inherited a world that got off to a bad start. But I’m not personally responsible for that bad decision, neither are you, and humanity is not rotten to the core. (Catechism, 405)

We did and do, however, need help. None of us can lift ourselves into Heaven by our bootstraps. (Catechism, 406)

That’s why Jesus came. Our nature has been wounded. We have fallen. We are, in a sense, dead. Jesus came to heal us, raise us and restore our life. (Catechism, 457)

Offhand, I’d say that celebrating the start of our Lord’s mission makes sense.

So does remembering our standing orders.

“…Be Prepared….”

NGC 4848 and other galaxies, image by Hubble/ESA.

We’re sitting on the best news humanity’s ever had. (Matthew 28:1620)

God loves us. All of us. Each of us. And God wants to adopt us. (Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:3-5; 2 Peter 2:34; Catechism, 1-3, 27-30, 52, 1825, 1996)

One part of our job is sharing what we know with anyone who will listen. (Mark 16:1516)

Another part is being ready for our Lord’s return: no matter when that is. (Matthew 24:44; Catechism, 673, 840, 1040, 2772)

“‘Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks….
“…You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.'”
(Luke 12:3540)

“He answered them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.
“But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'”
(Acts 1:78)

Our Lord’s return has been “imminent” for two millennia. (Catechism, 673)

So, how long should we wait? As I see it, as long as it takes.

Still Watching and Working

Brian H. Gill's 'Watching.' (2014)I’m an American, so two minutes can seem like a long time.

But I’m also a Catholic whose interests include history and cosmology. That’s helped me develop a sense of scale.

I willingly accept that, from God’s viewpoint, there’s little difference between a minute, a day and a millennium.

“But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.”
(2 Peter 3:8)

“A thousand years in your eyes
are merely a day gone by,
Before a watch passes in the night,”
(Psalms 90:4))

We’re still passing along what Jesus told us. And we’re still waiting for our Lord’s return.

I’ve talked about this before. And probably will again.

Like I said, it’s a big deal.

1 ‘Tis the season:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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3 Responses to Advent 2021: Another Year of Our Long Watch

  1. Speaking of God’s sense of scale, it reminds me of a little tale I remember a priest or two sharing in homilies, a tale about a man trying to ask for a million pesos from God, but first, the man asks God if, to Him, one peso is a million pesos and a million pesos is one peso, and in the end, the man goes “May I ask for a peso?” I feel like I forgot a bunch of stuff there, though, but I felt like I should share what I remember here, hahaha~ X”D

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