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Nate Tinner-Williams

First Sunday in Advent

“You do not know the day.” (Mt. 24:37-44)

These are the words of our Lord in today’s Gospel, a searing indictment of the human condition and also of our unchecked propensity toward pride and presumption.

Now, perhaps more than ever, we are unaware of the day, the times, and the seasons, so much so that we linger in idleness despite the high stakes of the hour. The world is waiting for our declaration of faith, our creative application of the gospel, and our witness to the suffering Christ, and yet we stand aloof and disinterested in the Great Commission.

As in Noah’s day, God is calling for faithful servants who will warn the people, who will call danger what it is, who will call their families and others’ into the well-built boat—dare I say, into the Barque of Peter. The flood of apathy and indifference is well upon us.

We await political saviors, activist warriors, academic savants, celebrity prophets, but ignore the Bread of Life who comes to us so freely and so pure. There is but one conquering King, and his words alone can give new life. He must guide our going and our coming, our thinking and our acting, our praying and our protest. Even our good deeds are as filthy rags, and even as we do them the Son of Man will come, and “one will be taken, and one will be left.”

How will the Master distinguish between the workers, between those who seem to do good and those who are truly doing the will of the Father? How must we act in these days, so as to prove ourselves worthy of the coming salvation? Brothers and sisters, we need but surrender.

And yet, our surrender is not a lax resignation to inactivity or indiligence. Oh no, the Lord Jesus says we must “stay awake” and not let our house be broken into! If our house, our bodily temple, is the house of the Lord, then let us be on guard against all evil that might seep in and corrupt.

as Noah “entered the ark” so as to receive his salvation, so also sin—the sin of inaction—seeks to enter into our minds and our spirits so as to guarantee damnation. Faith without works is dead, just as are works without faith. We must surrender and be workers of light, doing all things for the glory of God and with constant prayer.

Thus, even “at an hour you do not expect,” you will find yourself ready, even waiting at the door for the Son of Man when he knocks, when he comes to bring you your reward. Just as a mother waits patiently through the night for her son or daughter to return home safely, so we must also live lives of awareness in hope and love for our Redeemer.

Holy people of God, stay woke—for you do not know the hour.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and serves in ministry at the Howard University Newman Club in Washington, DC.

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