Watch and Pray – Mark 13 33 37 – Meaning and Commentary

1. Introductory prayer

I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…

The time of Advent is a time to expand our minds and open our hearts to the Lord’s presence in us and in the world, as well as to His final coming. The Holy Spirit, as your disciple and servant, we ask you to open my eyes and ears and all other senses so that I will always be attentive to the Lord and be able to work with Him in building His kingdom of peace, justice, and love. Please awaken me again and again and cleanse me of everything that prevents me from being able to accept and live the word of Jesus and be ready for His second coming.

2. Reading – Listening: Watch and Pray – Mark 13 33 37 – Meaning and Commentary

33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:

36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.

37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

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3. Thoughts on the Gospel – Watch and Pray – Mark 13 33 37 – Meaning and Commentary

“Be alert!” This is the key message of a short Gospel passage from the liturgy of the first Sunday of Advent. Watch! Jesus expects every Christian to be awake.

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This passage is part of the eschatological discourse in Chapter Thirteen, which speaks of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. One of the disciples warned Jesus, “Teacher, look what stones and what buildings!” Surely there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down ”(Mark 13: 2). The Temple of Jerusalem was a tangible sign of God’s presence in the midst of His chosen people and united all the Jewish tribes. To him “descend the tribes, the tribes of Yahweh, who glorify the name of Yahweh” (Ps 122: 4). All this was a sign of the promise made to David. But all this will be destroyed … It is a sign of something else yet to come.

The curious disciples, therefore, ask Jesus, who is sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, “Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign when all is near?” (Mark 13: 4) In the Jewish apocalyptic style inspired by Daniel, Jesus gives the answer of recognizable signs (false Messiahs and false prophets who will work signs and wonders to seduce the elect, Mark 13: 5-32). But “for that day or hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32).

When we have all this in front of our eyes, it is easier to understand the importance of vigilant and attentive in waiting for the arrival of the “master of the house” (Mark 13:35). When this comes, the “authority of the servants” will disappear (Mark 13:34) as well as the signs of his benevolence (temple, Jerusalem…).

Jesus often asked his disciples to watch. In the olive grove, on Thursday evening, the Lord says to Peter, James, and John, “Stay here and watch” (Mark 14:34; Matthew 26:38). Vigilance helps us not to fall into temptation (Mt 26:41), but to stay awake. In the olive grove, the disciples fall asleep because the flesh is weak, though the spirit is willing (Mark 14:38). Whoever falls asleep risks perishing like Samson, who allowed himself to be put to sleep and thus lost his power (Judges 16:19). It, therefore, encourages us to stay awake and pray. Thus we will avoid deception or seduction (Mk 13:22). The apostle Paul also calls us: “Awake, you who sleep, and rise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you” (Eph 5:14).

The attention Jesus encourages us to is not a passive approach to life in the sense of “wait and see what happens.” The Lord invites us to vigilance and active prayer, for his “kingdom” will come and his will be fulfilled “as in heaven, so on earth.” It is not enough to just pay attention to Christ. We are invited to look at all things together with Christ. He wants our hearts and minds to be transformed in him and his words. He wants us to be willing to work with Him in His saving work in us and in the world. Those who are always willing to work with Him will not be disappointed.

The time of Advent is a time to expand our minds and open our hearts to the Lord’s presence in us and in the world, but also for His final coming. As his disciples and servants, we ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and ears and all other senses so that we may always pay attention to the Lord and be able to work with him in building his kingdom of peace, justice, and love. We ask Him to awaken and purify us again from all that prevents us from being able to accept and live the word of Jesus and be ready for His second coming.

See also:

4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • If I dedicate a few moments to the Lord every day, I watch and pray, how can this contribute to my vigilance?
  • In Christ we taste life, in Him we are awake. I take a few moments to taste this Relationship with God, my Lord.
  • It is necessary to go into the depths to feel the longing to hear the heart that longs for the peace and freedom that Jesus brings. What should I pay special attention to in this Advent to wake up to live?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).

8. Prayer at the end

God, thank you for calling me to vigilance – you need vigilant people. Thank you for helping me to perceive longings – so I stay awake for life. And thank you for walking with me when I wake up, even if I take a nap, you wake me up again. You know every day is a good place to start. Thank you for supporting my readiness for the path, the path of life.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel about the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others, and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home –

Text from the Bible – New International Version (NIV)

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!