"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Wake Up To Love!

he key theme that runs through our mass readings today is ‘Stay awake’ or ‘Be alert’. Jesus was rousing and stirring them from sleep or a sleeplike state. The first generation of Christians especially during the time of St Paul could not afford to be sleeping. They had to be on their toes because they were being persecuted as a church by their fellow Jews. That is why the promise of Christ's return is especially precious to them. But in the gospel, Jesus stirs them to another type of waking up, that is, to be alert towards the beauty of human life itself. Naturally when life goes through some unfortunate stage like this pandemic, we start to kill ourselves already in great fear. Because of that we enter into a sleeplike mode and we forget that we are still alive, that there is still life within and around us. There is an overabundance of life than the one that was taken away by COVID virus.

There are three basic wakefulness to life that I have gathered for our reflection. These three are the basics for anyone of us, starting from my ownself. Nobody is totally immune. First, to be awake to the life that lives within us, i.e., our breath. Try being awake to your own breath on a daily basis. In my own way of doing the Ignatian exam the first of five moments is what I call breath. Any living form's respiratory rate is an important vital sign. For an adult human person the normal respiration rates range from 12 to 20 breaths per minute. Jesus is not saying we have to be awake to every breath though. What Jesus is referring to is all the direct experiences of being alive, like moving, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, realishing, noticing, savouring. These direct experiences are screaming in every breath that we take "Hey you are alive! Rejoice!" In the entire universe, earth is the only place that we can breathe. Nowhere else.

Secondly, Jesus is telling us to be awake to gratefulness. For St Ignatius of Loyola, our God is a God who labors. He labors by continuously creating the Universe and God does it by breathing into every Adam or Eve. But that was not the beginning, God first labored way before we can take one breath. They say the elements—calcium, carbon and iron—that make it possible to breathe were made in the hearts of ancient stars. Some of these stars have died long ago and these stars once moved and breathed life to every nook and crany of our Milky Way home galaxy. God labored through them. And the light of the morning sun this morning travelled millions of kilometers away to make us see it. It takes 8 minutes to travel from the surface of the sun to the earth. What I am saying here? That we must be awake to thank the One who woke up today—8 minutes earlier than any of us. Before we can have our first breath, God breathed first and God breathed on us.

Thirdly, Jesus is telling us to be awake to love. In both Old and New Testament agape or divine love is imaged in so many ways, e.g., the love of a father for his child, of a mother for the child of her womb, sacrificial love of a husband for his wife, etc. In Strong's Greek concordance it means "Affection or benevolence; specially a love-feast" (Strong's Greek 26). I can almost imagine the big bang as a result of this love-feast, agape from which everything originated. Apart from agape, the Bible also speaks of another form of love called eros or sexual love and intimacy between two lovers as shown in the Song of Songs. These love songs were accepted to be part of the biblical canon, both Jewish and Christian, and even enjoy such regard as the greatest and most beautiful of its class (as in Holy of Holies). Both agape and eros are like two sides of the same coin. In the Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI "Deus Caritas Est"—God Is Love, he reflects on God's agape that is also God's eros for human beings. The two are so intertwined and must remain so if we want to have a healthy and balanced view of our knowledge of God as love.

We say that God loved us first before we can even love back but there is a paradox at work here. We can only love God if we are capable of self-love. So does this mean we loved our own selves first? No. How can an infant love itself and take care of all its needs. An infant only loves to cry for love. Yes we were all born to cry for love. Remember a new born baby is spanked by the midwife to awake to life. That is what we call to be awake to cry for love of its mother. That is what we all are towards God.

This is the most basic of all wakefulness. Wakefulness to receive love and the giver of this love. When we internalize the love of all those who have loved us then we learned how to truly love our own selves and out of that self-love we can return the love. Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. Breathing in, I arrive in this moment
    Breathing out, I know it’s wonderful.
    Breathing in, I look deeply inside.
    Breathing out, I embrace what I see.
    Feeling alive right here, right now,
    Touching the infinite space of Love.
    Feeling alive right here, right now,
    Touching the Source deep inside of you

    --Thich Nhat Hanh

    Mindfulness to love... Awaken to love... Thank you FR. JM!

    1. Thanks so much for your sharing esp this beautiful poetry! GBU!


Post a Comment

Thank you for your interest in the above post. When you make a comment, I would personally read it first before it gets published with my response.