Stay awake!

December 9, 2017

Joe Kruse from the Minneapolis Catholic Worker and the CTA 20/30 group and studies theology at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.  He contributed the piece below, his reflection on Poland, in advance of the COP meeting there next year!

Read the full lectionary passages here.

“Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! 
You do not know when the appointed time will come.” (Mark 13:33)

This weekend, as I was gazing at my inundating facebook feed, I came upon an image that forced my scrolling to a grinding halt.  It was an aerial photo of 60,000 white nationalists marching through the city center of Warsaw, Poland.  The massive size of the crowd was illuminated by sporadic red flares.  White supremacists had flown into Warsaw from all over the continent to take place in the march, which was organized under the slogan, “We want God”, a terrifying rallying cry for Christian supremacy.  As I read more about the march, a pit took shape in my stomach.  This event was likely the world’s largest far-right march ever.

While Advent is appropriately seen as a time of prayer and contemplation of the miraculous birth of Jesus– of God’s incarnation into physical matter– events like the white supremacist march in Poland demonstrate that Advent should also be understood as a call to action.  Advent is a rallying cry to activelyembody the incarnation: to work, as Jesus did, for the Kingdom of God here and now.  In our readings today, Mark implores us to stay activated and to stay alert to the signs of the times.  To embody the incarnation, the birth of Jesus into our daily lives.  Mark writes, “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mk 13:33).

In her incredible book Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, black liberation theologian, Kelly Brown Douglas writes about kairos time, a concept similar to the “appointed time” Mark describes in 13:33.  Douglas explains that, “…this time in the life of the country is a kairos time.  Kairos time is the right or opportune time.  It is a decisive moment in history that potentially has far-reaching impact.  It is often a chaotic period, a time of crisis, However, it is through the chaos and crisis that God is fully present, disrupting things as they are and providing an opening to a new future – to God’s future” (Douglas 206).

The organized rally of 60,000 fascists in Poland, the recent one-year anniversary of the election of a white nationalist as the president of our country, the pending apocalyptic catastrophes of nuclear war and climate change, and the ever-increasing gap between the rich and poor imprinted on our global economy all signify that we are undoubtedly living into what Kelly Brown Douglas would call a kairos time.  Our current economic, social, and political situations demand that we embody Jesus, the incarnation, here on earth.  The reality of Christmas is our call to directly confront white supremacy, to abolish an extractive and lethal energy system, and to end what Pope Francis calls an economy that kills; an unbridled capitalism that proliferates inequality and fuels the misdirected anxiety undergirding far-right nationalism. The much needed emergence of “God’s future” into the world, the presence on the Kingdom of God here on Earth, depends on our ability to stay awake and to stay engaged amidst these uncertain, but appointed days.


  • What signs do you see that indicate we are living within kairos time”?
  • How are you, your family, and your faith community being called to embody God’s incarnation in this tumultuous time?