"Be on the watch. Pray constantly..." Luke 21:36
Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent, from the Latin word 'Adventus' meaning coming. Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus. Perhaps no one waits more than a prisoner in a Cuban jail. In his poignant memoir, Against All Hope, Armando Valladares, recounts his 22 years in the La Cabana prison.
He tells of the horror of not knowing who will be called to face the firing squad next. But it was in those first uncertain months that he embraced Christ. He tells of ordinary young men who would shout, "Viva Christo Rey!" before the fateful instant of death. The defiant cries of the executed, "Long live Christ the King! Down with Communism!" echoed within him. "The cries became such a potent and stirring symbol that by 1963 the men condemned to death were gagged before being carried down to be shot," Valladares wrote. "The jailers feared those shouts. They could not afford to allow even that last courageous cry from those about to die."
So we too must be on the watch constantly, perhaps not for a firing squad, but we can be sure that our ancient enemy has a bullseye on our back. He too is keeping watch for a time when we let our guard down.
Lord, may I ever be on the watch. May I be as courageous as those men, and keep praying, keep shouting, "Long live Christ the King!"