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In the Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent, Jesus invites us to ‘Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen’. In the Bible, sleep is a negative state associated with complacency and not being focused. The following is an extract from a homily of Pope Benedict XVI on the importance of focus and vigilance.

‘The question is: in what does apathy consist? What would the watchfulness to which the Lord invites us consist of? I would say that the disciples’ sleepiness in the course of history is a certain insensitiveness of the soul with regard to the power of evil, an insensibility to all the evil in the world. We do not wish to be unduly disturbed by these things, we prefer to forget them. We think that perhaps, after all, it will not be so serious and we forget.

Moreover, it is not only insensibility to evil, when we should be watchful in order to do good, to fight for the force of goodness. Rather it is an insensibility to God: this is our true sleepiness, this insensibility to God’s presence that also makes us insensible to evil. We are not aware of God — he would disturb us — hence we are naturally not aware of the force of evil and continue on the path of our own convenience’.

Pope Benedict XVI, 20th April 2011.

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