This Sunday begins a new season in the Church. Each season has its own special colour, and the colour for this season is purple.
Purple is for a season of preparing, when we get ready for a feast. We prepare for the feast of Christmas—the time when we celebrate Jesus the Light coming into the world. We call this season of preparation, "Advent."
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus, the Light of the World, prepares, too. He prepares his disciples for a time when it will seem like he is no longer with them, for a time when they might think the Light has gone.
Jesus tells them this parable:
“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with a particular task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.
We wonder what the disciples think when Jesus talks about a man leaving home to go on a journey. Who is this man? Does he mean himself? Is Jesus leaving?
We know that soldiers take Jesus away from the disciples. We know that Jesus dies on the cross but rises to new life, never to die again. We know that the Light of his Risen life is so bright—it can never go out. But the disciples do not know that.
Therefore, keep awake—in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn—or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.
Keep awake? Does Jesus tell the disciples never to sleep until they see him again? That does not seem right. We need sleep. It is good for us. We have to wonder what Jesus can mean.
Jesus mentions four times of day:
evening—when it starts to get dark
midnight—the darkest time of night
cockcrow—those silly roosters start to make noise while it is still dark!
dawn—the moment the light finally breaks the darkness
Actually, these are four times of night. All of these times are dark. All of these times have very little light. And if we close our eyes, they are darker still.
But if we open our eyes, even in the darkest moments, we find that we can begin to see. We say that our eyes "get used to" the darkness, but really they find enough light to see.
When Jesus says to keep awake, he means, find the Light.
He tells the disciples that even when it seems like all is dark, do not be afraid.
The Light is still with them. The Light never leaves. The Light is always with them.
The man in the parable leaves his home on a journey. But a home is a place we come back to. What will happen to the home when Jesus the Light comes back? Can we even imagine how bright that will be?!
No wonder we decorate our home with lights as we prepare for Christmas!
Jesus is already risen and his Light will never go out. We want that Light with us always. In this season of preparation, maybe we can prepare a special place in our home. It could be a little table or a shelf. It could be a small chair or stool in a corner of a room. Maybe we can find something purple to put there. Maybe an adult can light a small candle for us as we sit so still. As we look at the little light, we can think about the gift of Jesus the Light. What prayers to God will we hold in our hearts?