Bob had been a highly effective laborer in Jesus’ vineyard, fully engaged as a programmer/analyst at Creighton and as an associate minister at his home church. One day he was at work, living his active life. The next day he was in the hospital, with only a few more days to live.
Throughout the service, a common theme rang true: We do not know when our hour will come. We all hope to live a “full” life, whatever that means for our personal temperament and culture. For some of us, our lives will be shorter than we expect.
There it is, in today’s Gospel, standing emphatically on its own. One of the few direct orders we get from Jesus.
Luckily, the Reverend Berry was at his post, fighting the good fight, when his time came. I have no doubt that the Master was pleased with him in all aspects of his life.
Yet, it’s difficult not to put myself into his shoes. If my hour comes today, will I be ready? Will I be awake? What exactly does Jesus mean about staying awake? Does he mean to not sleep? That doesn’t sound healthy.
Saint Monica, whom we memorialize today, had the type of life one would not expect to produce a saint. She lived with a tyrannical husband, who did not believe in Christianity. It’s not clear what the limits of his abuse were, but suffice it to say that Saint Monica was able to speak with conviction to the other women of her day, many of whom were in the same perilous situation.
One of the primary issues for Monica was the baptism of her children, the oldest of whom was Saint Augustine (who will be memorialized tomorrow). As her husband was a non-believer, it was a constant battle for Monica to get his permission to have their children baptized (especially Augustine, who had left home and had become a Manichæist). Yet, after several years, they were eventually baptized Christian. How?
She prayed. She waited. She watched for the opportunity to present itself.
She stayed awake!
We cannot dictate the hour we are called back to the Lord, but we can decide what to do with the hours we have until that appointed time. Should we spend them groggily staggering through the humdrum of our daily lives, or join Saint Monica in watching and waiting for the opportunity to do our assigned Christian duties?
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