Mark 13: Watchful Dog

I’ve hit the part of Mark that recounts Holy Week, and while there are still plenty of things to notice there, since those stories get so much focus every year, less jumps off the page to me as fresh and new. But Mark 13:32-37 is one of those passages where Jesus tells the disciples to stay awake and be alert like servants waiting for their master to come home in the middle of the night, and this one, like all the others, seems to carry an “or else” implicit within it. If you get caught napping, bad things happen, and all that.

But if I can offer a replacement image that might be, if not as faithful to the gospels, more faithful to the actual Good News. Our dog does this whenever April is gone and has for years. (OK, so she is “our dog” only in the loosest sense; she is clearly April’s dog.) Not because she’s afraid of what will happen if she sleeps through April’s daily homecoming (which, as a 13-year old poodle, she does from time to time). Nor because she expects big treats from her beloved; even when she’s just been fed and walked, she remains at the door, waiting.

Y’all know my themes by this point. You know why she stays at the door, looking out for a sign of April’s car. She does it because of whatever the doggie equivalent of love is, because she wants almost literally nothing more than to be with the object of her devotion.

And I can say this since April isn’t on this website; some nights I literally wait with the dog, and others I figuratively wait with her. Because that’s what Love does, whether it’s looking out for a late-arriving master or a prodigal son or someone who just has to work late. More than what Mark says in 13:32-37, I think that’s what God is going for with this whole Good News thing.

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