pray

Gospel

MT 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! 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.”

Gospel citations come from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection

Ken Clingen ’82, ‘87JD

“Stay awake!” Jesus admonishes his disciples. With this parable (which is followed by the parable of the ten virgins that we’ll read tomorrow) Matthew emphasizes the need to stay awake and be prepared. And yet, during Jesus’ hour of greatest need in the Garden of Gethsemane, while he is praying so fervently that his “sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground” (LK 23:45), we learn that his disciples fall asleep not once, but three times!

Like the disciples and the actors in Matthew’s Gospel, lack of awareness and distraction often prevent us from focusing on what is truly important. This is especially true amidst the ever-present din of technology. The latest urgent e-mail, text, or post demands to be answered right away, interfering with more meaningful aspects of our lives.

In Deep Work, author Cal Newport posits that in order to engage in truly meaningful work we need to remove the modern distractions that interfere with our ability to focus and think deeply. He muses whether we need to be entertained by “33 Dogs Winning at Everything,” and recommends quitting social media. He mentions the concept of an “internet Sabbath,” likening it to the Biblical Sabbath with the introduction of a period of quiet and reflection. He suggests that we apply the concept of an internet Sabbath on a daily basis to eliminate internet-based distractions in order to accomplish focused and meaningful work.

Although Newport’s book focuses on work, the deep, meditative thinking he describes reminds me of prayer. Prayer—our conversation with God—also requires removing outside distractions that interfere with the conversation. Deep prayer can help us be prepared for that “unexpected hour.”

Our culture is like a thief that prowls outside of our house, continually trying to break in and rob us of our vigilance and focus. Let us embrace the discipline to avoid the distractions that prevent us from remaining spiritually awake and prepared.

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Prayer

Father Nicholas Ayo, CSC 

Lord God, your ways are mysterious and we are easily distracted and lulled to sleep. Help us to be alert, and to be not presumptuous of your mercy. Enlighten us, that we may recognize the danger of drifting through our days and being overtaken by our own negligence. Wake us and enable us by your grace. Amen.

Saint

St. Louis, the good king of France, you led your people with faithfulness and justice--pray for us!