instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Let us not sleep

I've read this verse many times, but today the words struck me:
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.
Being asleep rather than awake is a mild (and expressive) metaphor for unconverted sinners. It suggests that what unconverted sinners need is a wake-up call, rather than to be left alone, given a snooze alarm, or simply mockery from a distance. Wake-up calls are not always welcome, of course, nor even gentle, but they certainly can always be charitable.

What particularly caught my attention, though, were the words "as the rest do." If we do "as the rest do," we ourselves are asleep, we are children of the night -- which is to say, we are dead.

What do "the rest" do, as though unconscious or drunk? How much of our culture -- and I don't just mean the cultures of the countries in which we live, I mean of the culture in our own homes -- is a culture of the night or of darkness. How much do we do unthinkingly for which we will have to answer, and have no answer for, one day?

In the same chapter, St. Paul writes:
Test everything; retain what is good.
Are we trying to retain what is good without first testing everything?