Sunday, November 6, 2011

Staying Awake

"Therefore, stay awake, for you neither the day nor the hour."  (Matthew 25:13)

December 2, 1985.  It was quite possibly the greatest football game the Miami Dolphins ever played.  The undefeated Chicago Bears were coming into town to play on a Monday night and to steal our hallowed undefeated record from our franchise, but our golden boy quarterback and the best game plan Coach Shula ever devised crushed the Bears and sent them home with their only loss of the year.  It was one our franchise's finest hours...and I couldn't see it!  I felt the electricity as we travelled near the old Orange Bowl just hours before kickoff.  I was as pumped up for this game as a 10 year old could get.  But when my bedtime came around, my father pointed to my bedroom and sent me straight to bed.  I don't know how I slept that night, but I did and didn't find out who won until the next morning.  I still give my father a hard time about it to this day.

There are so many things that we miss in life because we fall asleep at the wheel, and we aren't alert enough to notice them especially in our spiritual lives.  If we go through the motions in life, it is almost impossible to see God's mighty hand at work in our life.  This morning when I preached to the children, I leaned in close to them and asked them if any of them had ever fallen asleep at Mass.  They were hesitant at first but eventually admitted that they had dozed off at Mass before.  Then came the money question:  I asked if their parents had ever fallen asleep during Mass. The kids jubilantly shouted "YES!" as their parents tried to hide.  We get distracted, we get bored, and we lose focus on what's important.  As we approach the end of the liturgical year, Jesus is warning us to stay awake, stay alert, and be ready, for we never know when he might come knocking at our door.  Obviously, Christ here is referring to his second coming, but there are so many other times where he tries to do great things in our lives but finds us sleeping or unprepared like the foolish virgins in today's gospel.  

Here's the problem:  we get lazy with our spiritual life far too often.  We don't nurture our soul.  We don't tend to our prayer life.  We get distracted by the external and don't make time for a God who always has time for us.  We are constantly moving on to the "next thing" without enjoying the present.  Just one day after Halloween, they started bombarding our airwaves with Christmas commercials even though it's still a month and a half away.  All of us are a week or two from complaining about being totally overwhelmed by the upcoming holidays.  We're putting the cart before the horse and the horse isn't even out of the barn yet.  We spend so much time planning for the superficial and the material that we do not concentrate on what we need in the present.  There will be plenty of time to prepare for Christmas.  We call it Advent.  Today, we have to focus on the here and now because Christ is present in the here and now.  Like the wise and prudent virgins, we must be sufficiently prepared spiritually for what lies immediately before us, and not be unprepared and get distracted like the foolish ones.  At this Mass, we should be thinking about how we can grow in our love for Christ, and not thinking about the week that lies ahead or what we're going to do after Mass.  We should come spiritually prepared to celebrate the mystery of God's love, and not look past this sacred hour, for around this altar is where our Lord does some of his finest work.  So stay awake my friends for the Lord is ready to do something wonderful in your life, and you definitely don't want to be asleep when it happens.