Saturday, December 02, 2006

34th Saturday in Ordinary Time (II)
The Prayer that Awakens

Readings: Revelations 22:1-7; Psalm 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7aba; Luke 21:34-36

On this last day of the church’s liturgical year, the gospel issues an admonition that is important enough to be repeated tomorrow: stay awake, praying at all times…

But what does it mean to stay awake? And conversely, what does it mean to fall asleep? With the very hectic schedules that many of us keep, hasn’t sleep deprivation become a widespread condition? Don’t many of us have to sleep late and wake up early just to fulfill the various responsibilities that life sets before us? Is this the kind of keeping awake that Jesus advises? Perhaps and perhaps not.

A useful perspective on the question is gained when we consider what the book of Revelation has been helping us to do throughout the past two weeks. Although sometimes obscure and confusing, our first readings have presented us with various visions of the end times. They have helped to keep alive for us our dreams of the day when all our deepest desires will be fulfilled in God, when God’s reign will truly be extended over all of space and time, when love, justice and peace will triumph over apathy, oppression and war, when it will never be night again… because the Lord God will be shining on us. And once again, we are reminded today that all that we have heard is sure and will come true… And happy are those who treasure the prophetic message of this book.

Could this be what it means to stay awake – namely to keep alive the vision of God’s kingdom even in the midst of our worldly preoccupations? Could this not be that for which Jesus asks us to pray? If so, perhaps we could pray in words and sentiments similar to these:

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
When having fallen in love with time,
We have ceased to dream of eternity;
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
Have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to grow dim.

How best might we stay awake today?

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