Aug 22, 2011

Wake up and don't go to sleep!

(Gospel for 8/25)
Mt 24: 42-51

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant,
whom the master has put in charge of his household
to distribute to them their food at the proper time"
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is long delayed,'
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant's master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

Maybe you’re old enough to remember the slap-stick comedy of The Three Stooges. You remember Moe, Larry and Curly and their crazy antics and the situations they would get themselves into and the schemes they would devise to solve their problems.

The relationship between the three, though, was rather strange. Moe appeared the bully of the group who seemed to defend his position with a slap on the cheek, a tweek of the nose, a hand up beneath your chin, and that ever painful poke in the eyes! Poor Curly seemed to take the brunt of it all. Even when I was much younger, I thought that some sort of warning should have been given before the movie began. Something which might have said: “Do not attempt this on your own. These guys are professionals.”

One scene that for some strange reason I remember involved an encounter between Moe and Curly. It was a long day, Curly was tired and had fallen asleep in his bed. Moe heard a strange noise, reached over (all three were sleeping in the same bed), slapped Curly on the face and said: “Hey, wake up and go to sleep!” Curly woke, nothing happened so he went back to sleep. It happened again and Moe’s slap on the face turned into a poke in the eyes. Yikes!

The point of this, in light of the Gospel above, may seem a bit odd. But, look above. Jesus warns his discples to “stay awake!” No, he doesn’t slap us on the face or poke us in the eyes but there is a clear sense of urgency here. The Lord may be saying to us, “Hey, wake up and don’t go to sleep!” Jesus uses the example of a wise master who is ready and prepared to guard his belongings as he waits for the thief’s arrival and is prepared lest the theif steal what he has.

In short, Jesus implies that wisdom is to “stay awake” to “be prepared” for the Lord coming in our life. I don’t feel this passage is necessarily about the end of our earthly lives. It surely could be but more so about the daily presence of the Lord in our life. How often we sense God active in our life may not be so much a measure of feeling as it is a measure of faith.

If I relied on my feelings alone, if I judged whether God was with me or not based upon how I felt that day, I may wonder where God was. Faith, as Jesus implies so often during his miracle stories, is a matter of trust and loyalty. “Your faith has healed you,” he says to the blind man, the woman whose daughter was healed, the woman whose internal bleeding ceased. “You believed that I could do this and you asked with a pure intention,” Jesus implied. You were loyal to me.

But whether our prayers are answered in the way we hope or not, faith sustains us. Every day we should be prepared, be ready to meet the Lord in our daily encounters because we are called to be loyal servants of the King. Ultimately, we are called to a very high ideal that should give us constant motivation to be better than we are.

In Lumen Gentium – the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, one of the central documents of the Second Vatican Council, we read: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity . . . Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance . . .” (LG 40).

If we do all things in Charity, I believe God will bless our efforts. And when we don’t, we seek to be reconciled with God and our neighbor in the sacrament of reconciliation. It certainly does keep us focused and awake does it not?

So, “Hey, wake up and don’t go to sleep!”