Weekend Reflection for 11/10/17
“Stay woke!” If you have any 20-something Millennials in your life, you’ve probably heard this expression. If not, Urban Dictionary, a website that provides definitions of youthful slang, defines “stay woke” as: “Being aware. Knowing what’s going on in your community, especially as it relates to social injustices.” Urban Dictionary also provides an example of “stay woke” used in a sentence: ”While you are obsessing with the Kardashians, there are millions of homeless in the world. STAY WOKE.”
Well, the message of this Sunday’s Gospel is precisely that: STAY WOKE! Jesus warns us not to be like those complacent and distracted virgins who are caught off-guard when the bridegroom returns. “Stay awake,” Jesus declares, “for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
There are plenty of preachers on radio and TV who provide exact predictions of Jesus’ Second Coming. They confidently pinpoint the end of the world down to the millisecond. But that’s nonsense. Jesus says emphatically in today’s gospel and elsewhere in scripture,“You know neither the dar or the hour.” Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for the Lord’s coming, and may very well wait another 2,000 or even more.
So today’s gospel is not about fretting over the date of Christ’s return, it’s about cultivating a particular attitude of waiting each day of our lives. That attitude is one of “staying woke,” or to put it in more Christian language, of “waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior,” as the priest prays at every Mass just after the Our Father.
Waiting in joyful hope. The famous spiritual writer Fr. Henri Nouwen elaborates on this attitude:
“The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
So waiting in joyful hope means trusting more deeply that God’s promises are real, that does God has great things in store for us. It also means trying to surrender a bit more control to God, knowing that He always has our back. It means letting our Christian joy radiate to others. It means not “obsessing with the Kardashians” — or any of those not-so-important things in life — but instead focusing on the big stuff: Trying to live lives that resemble Jesus’ own: lives of abiding trust in the Father, lives of tender mercy, of compassionate forgiveness, of care and concern for those who are struggling. STAY WOKE.
-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, SJ