November 9, 2020
Dear Family of Mary!
March 25, 2001 “Dear children! Also, today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Little children, you live in a time in which God gives great graces, but you do not know how to make good use of them. You are concerned about everything else, but the least for the soul and spiritual life. Awaken from the tired sleep of your soul and say yes to God with all your strength. Decide for conversion and holiness. I am with you, little children, and I call you to perfection of your soul and of everything you do. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Our Lady calls us to awaken from the “tired sleep” of our souls and return to God in prayer. Fr. Leon speaks to us about this waking in his homily for November 9, at English Mass in Medjugorje. He has shared with us the transcript of his homily! Let’s open our hearts and receive the grace:
Homily for English Mass, November 9, 2020, Fr. Leon Pereira, O.P.:
The parable of the ten virgins at a wedding comes to make or break moment in the crunch line, ‘Stay awake because you do not know either the day or the hour’. What day? What hour?
In Jesus’s time, His contemporaries had become very pessimistic about the value of tinkering with this world in order to improve it. Would it really change anything fundamental to human life to start a reform? What could we humans do to improve things? Isn’t human nature – in fact, isn’t this world – too much of a mess to be helped? Will God not simply have to intervene and start up His creative work all over again, rooting out what is evil, vindicating what is good?
In our own time we too can understand this attitude. Faced with the debacles of recent history, it seems not unreasonable to be in a permanent state of mild despair about humanity as we know it. The growth of knowledge and technology doesn’t, evidently, reduce malice among humans. It just gives it more scope. Our scientific and technological advances haven’t made us better; they helped us to do far worse to each other.
Accordingly, many Jews, holding to the faithfulness of God to His own goodness, expected a new creation, a new world: the ‘turn of the ages’, as they called it – or, again, the ‘Day of the Lord’, or – yet again, the ‘hour of the Son of Man’. This was the moment when God would send a sort of plenipotentiary to sort out supernaturally the mess we’ve made of the first creation.
So this is what Jesus is talking about: this is ‘the day’ or ‘the hour’ that His hearers do not know, and so they must stay awake for it lest they miss it and be caught unawares.
If this were the end of the story, however, then we today would be in exactly the same position as the Jews then. We’d be waiting for God, waiting for a glorious solution to our problems that’s always coming but never quite here. But this is not how the New Testament sees it, because the New Testament doesn’t end the story with the preaching of Jesus. It goes on to talk about His passion, His death and His resurrection. It sees in these events the breakthrough: the new world, the divine intervention that Jesus had promised, and which we need.
St John ties Jesus’s language about the day and the hour absolutely firmly to the moment of Jesus’s death. At Cana, Jesus in response to His mother’s request for a miracle of some kind simply says, ‘My hour has not yet come’.
Later, at the feast of Tabernacles, John explains the puzzle that the Temple guards hadn’t arrested Jesus as a troublemaker by saying, ‘His time had not yet come’. Then at last, on Palm Sunday, Jesus tells His disciples, ‘Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain but if it dies it yields a rich harvest’.
And finally at the Last Supper Jesus prays, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him’. So, the death of Jesus is the day, the hour: it was for this that His disciples were to stay awake, to be watchful.
But did they?
The Gospels describe for us the flight of the disciples; and the literal falling asleep of Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus sweats blood before them. ‘Could you not have stayed awake with Me one only hour?’ What layers of meaning for our faith that question contains! This is the moment when a new world is to be born; when God made man is to make the ultimate sacrifice of His infinitely precious life; when the endless energy that sacrifice releases is about the pour back into the world as the One we call the Holy Spirit—the Spirit who makes all things new, the Spirit who renews the face of the earth. This is the hour, the hour of doom and salvation, the crucial hour for our everlasting good, after which the world can never be the same again, and ‘Could you not have stayed awake with Me’ in this hour of all hours?
Our faith invites us to see the death and resurrection of Jesus as the central events in the history of the world. Through them, God’s Spirit is sent abroad to remake our humanity in the image of His Son, to gather men and women into that union with Him which is His mystical Body. From the life of that Body, St Paul, St Francis of Assisi, St Mother Teresa of Calcutta, were nourished. You see, the staying awake ‘one only hour’, to be watchful for the coming of Christ, refers in the first place not to Christ’s second coming and the end of the world, but to Christ’s death and resurrection.
If we are not awake, then we will miss Christ’s death. We want the solution to our problems, but Christ sweats blood in Gethsemane, for us. We want a stress-free life, but Christ is betrayed and tormented, for us. We want healing for our bodies, but Christ carries His cross, for us. We want the freedom to live our lives as we choose, but Christ is nailed to the cross, for us. We want jobs, marriages, children, but Christ dies and is buried, for us. We want a fresh start to our lives, and Christ is risen from the dead, for us.
‘Stay awake’ means this first: to let Christ die and rise again for us, to enter into a relationship with Him. If we are friends with Christ, then His second coming will not catch us off guard either. And in this staying awake ‘one only hour’ we see what human nature can become if only we let grace do its work. This is our remedy as Christians for the ills of the world: the new start, the new hope for the world in the crucified and risen Lord.
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
©Mary TV 2020