Today’s second reading and today’s Gospel use a similar image but in different ways. The second reading says, “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” The Gospel says, “Therefore, stay awake!” So which is it, are we asleep or awake?
How do you wake up? Some people need an alarm clock to wake up while others internalize an alarm clock and wake up at the proper time. Parents of teenagers report extreme difficulty waking up their children. Websites give advice to parents from throwing ice water on their child, to turning up the stereo, to scheduling a shower time, which if missed, assures them of cold water. Waking up just isn’t a problem for teenagers. More and more adults are addicted to the snooze button on their alarm clocks. It begins with an innocent excuse, “I stayed up last night working on this report or cleaning the house, I deserve just nine more minutes this morning.” So you hit the snooze button once. After a while, hitting the snooze becomes more and more frequent. Now you find yourself addicted to that little button, hitting it five, six, seven, or more times before you get out of bed. Waking up sometimes is difficult and we need help. We need a parent to throw water on us or a spouse to motivate us not to hit that snooze button. In short, waking up may be something we don’t accomplish on our own.
The same is true for staying awake. Maybe you have been driving for a long time on vacation and you are tired, you ask your spouse to help you stay awake so you arrive at the destination safely. Maybe you are in class and afraid to fall asleep so you ask your friend to tap you on occasion to keep you awake. Perhaps you were out all night and father’s homily is a little dull so your pew-mate gives you a nudge to keep you from snoring and embarrassing yourself. Staying awake and waking up are not things we can always do on our own. We need other people to help us on our journey.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with my former pastor and a couple of old parishioners. As we arrived at the destination, the priest noticed a sign saying a security company protects the property. Fr. Pat took one look at the sign and said that company is worthless. He said, “That company couldn’t even secure a doghouse.” It is easier to keep watch when we don’t have to stay up all night on our own but we have others who watch with us. If we all attempt to keep awake at once, everyone will be asleep when the thief comes. Instead, we need to rely on others to wake us up when we are sleeping and to wake others when they are asleep. May this Eucharist strengthen us on our journey.