Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this:if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time?
Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that wicked slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The bell rang at 4 am, several times and loud enough to rouse anyone from sleep. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant sound, but then again most things that jar one out of slumber aren’t particularly pleasant. A few minutes passed, giving everyone enough time to wake themselves up and make their way to the abbey church, where the night time office of Vigils would begin. Soon enough the bell rang again and someone began the solemn chanting, “Lord open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise.” Each morning, as I was making my retreat as a guest of the monastery, the psalms and readings would go on and on. Sometimes I had profound experiences of prayer. Most of the time, though, I was just tired. I thought to myself, “Didn’t we pray this psalm already today?” I found myself thankful when the psalms that morning were the shorter ones. Vigilance is not easy.
The monastic life enfleshes in concrete practices the admonition of our Lord to “stay awake!” These monks, day in and day out, choose the time of the day most prone to sleeping and dreaming, and they wake up to pray. It is a symbolic action with a message for each and every one of us, even if we cannot imitate their schedule. The Lord advises us to be ready at all times, since He is returning at any moment. Whether we are working, relaxing, spending time with family or friends, at prayer or resting, an attitude of vigilance should pervade our whole life. We should be ready and waiting when He returns, “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
—Mr. Timothy Kieras, SJ
Lord, an Indian proverb reminds us that when the sun goes down at sunset, it will take a part of our life with it. Help us, Lord, to live with no regrets. Are there talents we have not explored? Are there dreams that we have toyed with but have not given the proper attention? Are there friendships that we have put to the side until our lives slow down? Has our sense of gratitude become dulled? Do we keep looking to the future when we will finally focus on our spirituality? This day, Lord, we want to live in the now, present to all the good things in our lives. We ask for your wisdom so we do give priority to that which really matters. Abolish our regrets as we seek to find you in the ordinary twists and turns of the day.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team