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Speaking to his disciples, Jesus once said: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” (Luke 21:34).
He was concerned that they might be letting the ways of the world dull their spiritual instincts.
Four hundred years later, St. Augustine also confessed to this condition of spiritual sleepiness. He told how, before his conversion, he was “held down by the pleasant weight of this world,” and how he wanted to wake up but, overcome by its pleasures, kept falling back to sleep. Augustine would even be “won over by God’s ways, but then bribed and mastered by the world.” He wanted to follow Jesus, but would end up pleading, “Now, now, at this very moment, just leave me alone for a little while longer.” (Confessions, Book 8).
How did Augustine wake up? By the grace of God. In the midst of an internal struggle between his spiritual desires and his sinful ways, he thought he heard a child chanting, Tolle lege, which means, “Take up and read.” Augustine felt this was a moment of divine inspiration. Taking the words literally, he grabbed a nearby Bible, opened it, and read the first passage that his eyes fell upon: “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep . . . not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:11,13-14). Those words, combined with the power of the Holy Spirit, woke Augustine up and led to his conversion.
Receive the Easter Miracle. Have we minimized the meaning of Easter? Have we have reduced our Easter celebrations to a level similar to birthdays or anniversaries? Easter is the greatest event in human history, but it’s possible that we have succumbed to spiritual sleepiness.
Just as God spoke to Augustine, he wants to speak to us. He wants to expand our appreciation for the cross. He wants to give us a new and exciting view of the resurrection. He wants to tell us that the miracle of Easter is our way to heaven; it’s the greatest gift anyone could ever give us.
The Easter miracle dramatically changed the early church. Before Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles were discouraged, even despondent. Mary Magdalene was all set to anoint a dead body. Everything was lost. A good thing had come to an end. But Jesus surprised them all—and he wants to surprise us as well. His resurrection is the foundation for our whole life of faith. It’s the reason we pray and work to win souls for Jesus and build the church. Let’s not look for the living among the dead. Jesus is risen and he, not this world, is the light of life.
Between now and Pentecost, let’s be more alert than ever before. Let’s ask Jesus for an Easter miracle in our families. Let’s also rise up from any sleepiness, vowing never to be bribed or mastered by this world again. Jesus is risen. He is the Lord. Let’s embrace him.