Mark 14: 37-41
37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”39Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.41Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.
Matthew 24: 42-44
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Many times Jesus taught the disciples the importance of being spiritually ready for his return, and the Bible, overall, clearly communicates the importance of people being ready for the day of judgment. Jesus uses several images to convey this state of readiness. He tells a story about some bridesmaids whose job it is to be ready to light the way of the groom with lamps as he comes to get his bride. They don’t know when he will come, so they fill their lamps with oil and wait through the night. One does not fill her lamp with oil. Does she think the groom won’t be long? Does she forget? Whatever the case, she is caught unprepared.
In another story, Jesus tells of two servants. One takes good care of his Master’s things while his Master is away, while the other one uses his Master’s things for his own pleasure. The Master comes back early and punishes the one while rewarding the other. The point….be ready because you don’t know when the Master will return!
Today we reflect on Peter, James, and John’s inability to stay awake with Jesus as he makes his last prayerful preparations to face torture and death. Were they tired after the long journey of the previous days and the long Passover meal celebration? Was the stress of the coming conflict wearing them out? Did they not yet understand the significance of what was about to happen? Whatever the reason, they could not stay awake to support Jesus in his most desperate hour.
When Jesus’ Spirit prompts us to do something like make a change, resist a temptation, respond to the need of someone around us, pray, worship, whatever, do we sometimes sleep right through it? How often does our busyness or the stressed fatigue of our lives keep us numb to the call of Jesus on a daily basis?
There are good reasons to practice fasting in the spiritual life, especially in contemporary life. We tend to overfill our stomachs to the point that we forget to pay attention to our body’s cues which tell us when we need food and when we are full. We tend to stuff our schedules to overflowing to the extent that we forget to pay attention to our need for rest, sleep, and quiet time to reflect on and reorder our lives in God’s presence. And we are bombarded with messages from advertisements and constant media to the point that we often don’t hear the voice of God’s Spirit within us, guiding, directing, and empowering our lives. Fast from food, fast from an overcrowded schedule, fast from media this season of Lent to be ready to hear the call of the Master and respond in love and obedience.
Dear God, give us the grace to stay awake with you so we are prepared to follow you today!