Mark 13:36

otherwise he might come suddenly and find you asleep.

at all cost
reorganize today
in light of tomorrow

no future surprise
lives without hope
that today is its day

every perchance dream
creeps in its petty pace
to spring full blown

startled to attention
beyond our expectation
doesn’t change our welcome

not what we looked for
is still what we have
hello when did you get in

Early on we ran into Mark’s telling his story at break-neck speed by the repeated use of εὐθύς (euthys, “at once”, “immediately”). This can be contrasted here with Mark’s only use of the word ἐξαίφνης (exaiphnēs, “suddenly”, “unexpectedly”).

The difference highlights Mark’s storytelling having an intention different from any happenstance that might startle us from our adjustment to a settled everydayness. When someone has been away long enough they pass on from growing our heart’s fondness for them to doing what is necessary without them.

 In an apocalyptic story we are taken unaware of the end, even if expecting it—remember any horror story picking off all the bit players so there can be a show-down with the disaster or escape by the hero/heroine.

Here the call to “Watch!” is not a too-late warning for an individual, but a call to a whole community. It becomes a way for them to watch over one another with encouragement and correction in the midst of every moment’s entropic tendency toward decline and disorder.

To “Watch!” goes beyond rules, to love of Neighb*r. This is to be a way of living together that includes an extension of present Neighb*r’s into generations to come.

Sabin159 notes that the “church fathers appear to be silent about this parable.” She goes on to say,

“the final thrust of the parable is the importance of keeping watch because the lord will return….the Temple will be once more inhabited by the divine presence. Thus the parable about the returning householder provides a merciful response not only to the disciples’ question about the Temple’s destruction but to their clear reverence for its ancient beauty and meaning….its destruction and its restoration.

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