32nd Sunday Ordinary Time – Bridegroom Delayed – Nap Time!
There seem to be several view about sleeping in the scriptures. Certainly, St. Joseph had dreams during which he learned the will of God. Jesus slept in the boat during the storm. “God gives to the beloved in sleep” was a familiar adage in my younger Jesuit days.
What aspects might the verb, katheudo, “to sleep, lie down, rest” bring together in this part of the story: “As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.” (Matthew 25:5) Here are several key ones:
The story of the call of Samuel is a classic vocation story. God called him by name while little Samuel laid down and slept. It occurs eight times in a brief passage. Here’s a portion –
1 Samuel 3:9f Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
God rouses Samuel from his sleep to call him into the divine service as a prophet. The old man, Eli, confirmed that call. Wake up!
Proverbs playfully understands learning by osmosis to occur with the commandments bound to one’s neck – the memory of them blesses the child and leads her even as she rests.
Proverbs 6:20–22 My child, keep your father’s commandment, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.
And, Matthew contrasts Jesus as awake with his disciples sleeping at a key time. What if this is a picture of our lives. Sleep-walking through life…
Matthew 26:40 (NRSV) — 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?
Matthew 26:43–45 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Jesuit Zen Masters were fond of pointing to the depiction of the story of the Buddha. In the first frame, he slept. He woke. At this point, most of us go back to sleep. Gautama saw the tracks of the Ox (symbol of wisdom) and followed. His journey continued until he wakened from sleep.
Sleep = numbed out, distracted, bored, lost, longing for more, but…
The crisis of the arrival of the bridegroom wakened the bridesmaids to their situation – some were ready, some not. What if Christ calls, whispers, and shouts each moment of the day to get our attention? Wake up!