No less than four times, Jesus bids us stay awake in today’s Gospel. We need to sleep, of course, so he’s not saying that Christians are to be insomniacs. He is urging us to be ready for Him, but only because He desires that we will want to be ready for Him.
We cannot know when He will come for us. Both the end of our lives and the end of time are out of our control. Hence, we cannot postpone being ready for him. Procrastination is the thief of time, says the proverb, but it can also be the thief of eternity. If we are not ready for him now, chances are we won’t be then.
The Lord doesn’t expect us to sit or kneel all day in prayer, looking to the horizon to see if He’s coming. Vigilance is not just about the moment of His return. It applies, too, to the here and now. Am I vigilant in doing now what the Lord wants of me? If I am busy doing that, then I will be ready for His return.
Something practical that will help us to do the Lord’s will during the day and so our readiness for his coming is to offer the day to the Lord. St. John Vianney once said that anything we do without offering it to God is wasted. The Catechism says that: “The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross… The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Saviour’s grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father.”
I encourage everyone to continue, or to begin, making a Morning Offering every day. It sets the tone for the day and it sets you up for the day more than a hearty breakfast. It will echo in your heart throughout the day and may well stop you from doing things you shouldn’t do. And when you get to the end of the day, the obvious thing to do will be to kneel down and thank the Lord, asking mercy for any failings. You will have passed a day in readiness for the Lord and you will thus enter the night in readiness for Him, too: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
On the difference a Morning Offering can make to your day, I found this little poem:
I got up early one morning
and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I didn’t have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me,
and heavier came each task,
“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered,
He answered, “You didn’t ask.”
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day rolled on, grey and bleak,
I wondered why God didn’t show me,
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I tried to come into God’s presence;
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
“My child, you didn’t knock.”
I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day,
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray.
I have put up on the parish website a few versions of the Morning Offering. I encourage everyone to say some form of it with the conscious intention of being awake, being vigilant, being ready for the coming of the Lord Jesus – for you.