HOMILY FOR NINETEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)


Dear friends. Lately, I drove passed a sign on a motorway that caught my attention. ‘Tiredness Kills’ was the stark message that encouraged drivers to stop and rest when fatigue hits them. Staying awake can literally save your life.

In the Gospels, Jesus often urges his disciples to ‘stay awake’ as he does in the Gospel for this Sunday. But what does he mean? Does he want us to drink more coffee and sleep less? Hardly. Like most things he asks of us, his meaning is deeper and wiser.

In the Scriptures, to fall asleep is a metaphor for falling into a spiritual laziness and a state of half-life where the people sleeping miss out on opportunities and fail to grasp the moment in which they live. They also begin to lose their focus of who they are and what their lives are about. In contrast, to be awake is to be alive, focused and ready to respond to God and what he asks of us. Think here of the garden of Gethsemane when Peter, James and John all fell asleep when the Lord endured his agony of spirit. Three times they feel asleep when he asked them to pray. Then there is the example from the Gospel today where Jesus urges his stand ready for the master to return and to be awake when he comes.

So what then is the Lord asking of us today with this message of ‘staying awake’? The meaning of ‘staying awake’ has both vertical and horizontal dimensions, just like the sign of the cross. First the vertical dimension where the human spirit comes alive and stays alive when connected to God. Note how Peter, James and John were invited to keep watch and pray with Jesus in the Garden but instead they slept. When we don’t pray, we also succumb to the same lack of energy. We become bored easily, restless and unsatisfied. But when we do pray and unite our spirits to God, his love for each of us brings us life and renewal in mind and in body. This how God wants us to be no matter what our age and state of life. His forgiveness and hope always restores our spirits and gives us the strength to keep going. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord always takes us back to our first love making us feel young again and vibrant in soul. For in Jesus’ own words in today’s Gospel, where your treasure is there your heart will be too.oly Spirit

Then there is the horizontal dimension of being in the world today. Staying awake means to be Christian because we want to become one and stay committed as one. It is so easy to lose focus and to drift into a life that lacks purpose or direction. More and more, to become a Catholic Christian is a matter of choice and conviction. It is a way of life that it worth living, a life that points to ideals greater than this world. It is a life focused on generosity, the joy of service and charity, the pursuit of justice and love for everyone. This is why God calls us into the Church community – to hear his call, to be changed by his love, to discern our vocation and to be sent back into the world with a mission that is focused and marked by call and response.

Friends, tiredness can kill - not just the body but also the soul. It isn’t always caused by doing too much but often by a spiritual deadness where we seldom pray and drift into boredom with no focus or meaning. Our faith is ever calling us to new life and new beginnings made possible by God’s love. His love summons us back on the pitch again to play our part and do our best. Together we say ‘Yes’ to being a disciple of Jesus – united to him, alive in him and focused on the mission he asks of us.

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