isaiah 2:1-5; romans 13:11-14; matthew 24:37-44
during winter, with extreme weather conditions in mountainous kashmir, it is common for indian and pakistani troops to abandon some forward posts and to reduce patrolling along the LoC.
in february 1999, with weather conditions still extreme, the pakistani army re-occupied its posts in kargil; moreover, the elite special services and battalions of the northern light infantry intruded into indian territory. these incursions were not detected for various reasons: indian patrols did not go into the infiltrated areas; they assumed the infiltrators were jihadis who could be easily evicted. the indian army realised the scale of the attack only in may… and then launched its counter-attack—operation vijay—which (with international pressure) forced the pakistani forces to retreat after almost three months of war.
the indian troops were not «awake»; they were not alert to the signs of the presence of the enemy; they were not ready… and the result was the kargil war which left 527 indian troops dead and 1,363 wounded.
it is important for an army to stay awake, stay alert and stay ready. it is even more important for us to stay awake, stay alert and stay ready… not for an enemy intrusion but for the coming of the LORD.
in the gospel, JESUS urges his disciples to be ready for the sudden and unexpected «coming of the Son of Man» through two allusions: the days of noah when people went about their routine unaware of the impending flood; the entry of a burglar at an unknown hour.
the other readings give us a blueprint for preparing for this unexpected coming! st paul tells us to stay awake, throw off the works of darkness, and conduct ourselves properly. isaiah asks us to listen to the LORD so «that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.»
like opportunities for growth, which do not wait for us to be ready, the LORD will not wait for us to be ready; he will come «in his time»! it is up to us to «stay awake» and not sleep through the opportunities to discover GOD; to «stay alert» to the signs of GOD’s unmistakable presence in our lives; to stay ready for his coming in our daily lives, at christmas, at our death and at the end of time.
am i awake, alert, ready?? may you and i use this period of advent to stay ready for the LORD’s coming... and not just get ready for christmas!