By Kristen Pungitore
I would never in a million years describe myself as a “night owl.” In middle school and high school, I was always the first one to fall asleep at soccer sleepovers. I never once pulled an all-nighter studying or writing a paper in college. As an adult, if a function starts after 9pm, even on a Saturday night, I probably will make some excuse to not attend. I’ll also sometimes Uber home when friends opt to stay out later than I expected.
So when I read that Jesus warned his disciples to “Stay awake!,” I thought, “Oh no, I’m in for it”
Or maybe not. Hopefully not. In the Gospel reading, Jesus continues and tells his disciples, “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” The good news here is that Jesus might come in the early morning hour and I’d be awake then.
The bad news is that there is no way of knowing when this hour will be.
No doctor can predict and no prayer can provide an answer to this question. It’s clear that this is not knowledge for us to have. So, then, what do we do?
We live in a world where the reality of the crucifixion is juxtaposed daily with the hope of the resurrection. We profess these things side by side in every creed and every liturgy, but also in everyday life. I sit in this lovely coffee shop today knowing that I am surrounded by death, decay, sorrow, loneliness, terrorism, hate and fear. Yet, in the very same moment, in the very same place,
I’m reminded of joy, hope, love, beauty, life, forgiveness and grace.
As people who profess Christ, this is our story and we have no way of knowing when the hour will come.
Instead of fixating on when I will die, I must shift my attention to how to better live. Life lived to the fullest glories God, gives us peace that passes all understanding, and prepares us for the hour to come. What is life lived to the fullest? Well it’s a lot more than a cliché quote placed on perfectly filtered picture on Instagram;
It’s Gospel living.
It’s forgiving someone that really wronged you. It’s giving the other half of your sandwich to someone who is hungry. It’s welcoming the stranger when it feels hard and uncomfortable. It’s treating people like they matter even after a long day. It’s respecting, using, and preserving our planet. It’s loving God and our neighbor.
When we “stay awake,” we are living our lives in such a way that we are proud of who we are, what we are about, and what we do with our time, relationships, money, and gifts. If the hour came today, would we be able to say that we’ve lived life to the fullest? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a little bit of Gospel living left to do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristen teaches theology and plans service immersion trips for students at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland, OH. She enjoys teaching students about the beauty and complexities of Scripture and challenging them to engage the "other" in service in the world. She is in love with community, the outdoors, America's National Parks, and her golden retriever puppy Finn.