August 30, 2012 - Thursday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Psalm 145:2-7
Matthew 24:42-51

“Stay awake!”, Jesus tells us. There are two kinds of tired: exhausted and frustrated; these are our enemies. Exhaustion and frustration are the enemies of man going all the way back to the beginning. When Adam sinned, God told Adam that he would now get his bread by the sweat of his brow and that thorns and thistles would grow instead of fruit. When Jesus says “Stay awake”, he is being metaphorical (we are allowed to go to bed each night), so what does it mean to stay awake in a world as exhausting and frustrating as this one?

The master of the house would have stayed awake if he knew the day and hour when his house would be robbed. We do not know when Jesus is coming, so we ought to be, in every moment, the way that we want to be when Jesus comes. Someday Jesus will show up out of the clouds and this whole earth will end. When that hour comes, I would like to be in church, having just gone to confession, either that or helping a poor person get something to eat. How do you want to be on that day? Well, what if today is that day?

This idea is made clearer in the second parable. The servant is frustrated. He has been on his best behavior, but his master has not come home to see it, so he “begins to beat his fellow servants and eat and drink with drunkards.” Clearly, this is what he wanted to do all along. He kept up the façade of being a good servant as long as he could, but it was a lot of work and he was not getting anything out of it.

Now the metaphor is clear: falling asleep means giving up. Have you ever been tempted to give up being good? Being good in this life is exhausting and frustrating; it is tiring. All this work seems to be getting us nowhere. If heaven is real, it will all be worth it, I am sure, but who can be certain that heaven is real? How are we supposed to stay awake when life is this tiring? So many people would not think of starting work each day without a cup or two of coffee or a mug of Mountain Dew, yet how many will start the more difficult work of becoming perfect each day without prayer! If being good is making you tired, and you are thinking of giving up, ask God for the energy you need to keep going, to stay awake.