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“Watch!” This word occurs three times in today’s Gospel passage. Moreover, it is placed at significant points: the beginning, the center, and the end. Though this is technically a parable, it is quite short (four verses). The threefold repetition of “watch” leaves no doubt as to what the story is about.

We often think of Advent as a time of waiting, but it truly is a season of watchfulness, a very active form of waiting for the coming Day of the Lord. It is that day, more than Christmas day, that the Christian community faithfully expects, using all of our gifts and talents for this purpose, as Paul reminds us in the Letter to the Corinthians. When we use these gifts in faithful watching and expectation, we become like the servants of the parable, set to their tasks, not waiting around idly, but engaged in the master’s work until his return. May our Advent be a time when we return or rededicate our lives and our communities to this work—the active and diligent faithfulness that the Lord will expect to find.

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