READINGS: Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8 / Ps. 80 / 1 Cor. 1:3-9 / Mark 13:33-37
1st Sunday of Advent

Beloved, thrice in today’s gospel reading, Jesus enjoins us: ‘STAY AWAKE’ (Mk. 13:33, 35, and 37).  Why are we to stay awake? In the first instance, he says, ‘STAY AWAKE, because you never know when the time will come’ (Mk. 13:33). In the second instance, he says, ‘STAY AWAKE because you do not know when the master of the house is coming’ (Mk. 13:35).  And in the third instance, he simply stresses the point: ‘STAY AWAKE’(Mk. 13:37)!

Beloved, since we can’t know the day or hour, our interest should be in how to prepare well for Christ’s second coming.  In his first coming, many in Israel knew that he would come, but they didn’t know the day and hour, and so many were taken by surprise when he was born in Bethlehem. He doesn’t want us to be taken by surprise at his second coming so he says, ‘STAY AWAKE’.  To understand well what it means to ‘stay awake’, let’s first consider what it means to be ‘asleep’.

SLEEPING: Let us look at the natural phenomenon of sleeping, and then we can relate it to spiritual sleeping. In a NATURAL SLEEP:

  • One is alive but not conscious of his/her environment.
  • One can’t see what is going on.
  • One can’t hear.
  • One may dream.
  • One is inactive.
  • One is vulnerable (cf. Samson in Judges 16:19).

SPIRITUAL SLEEP (ASLEEP IN SPIRIT): Similarly, one is asleep in spirit when:

  • Physically alive but spiritually dead because of sin.
  • One can’t see or appreciate God’s blessings in his or her life; nor see the evil or sin in his/her life.
  • One can’t hear the word of God or pay attention to it.
  • One thinks this world is the ultimate real world (as in the case of dreaming in a natural sleep).
  • One is not active in good deeds or in investing his/her talents.
  • One is vulnerable in spirit – easily overcome by temptation, sin and evil.

One night in my childhood, I was sleeping outside when my brother woke me up to get into the bedroom.  Unknowingly, I started walking towards the street, until someone called me back.  Similarly, those who are sleeping in spirit will walk away from heaven when the Lord comes again to wake up all mankind. So let’s STAY AWAKE!

STAY AWAKE: How then do we stay awake? Staying awake is contrary to what we have said about sleeping:

NATURALLY AWAKE: One who is awake:

  • Is alive and conscious of his/her surroundings.
  • Can see what is going on.
  • Can hear.
  • Can make a distinction between a dream and reality.
  • Can be active.
  • Can defend him/herself or call for help.

STAYING AWAKE SPIRITUALLY: Similarly, one who is awake spiritually is:

  • Alive in the Spirit, bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).
  • One who can see or appreciate God’s blessings and graces in his or her life.
  • One who is attentive to God’s word (because man can’t live on bread alone but on every word of God).
  • One who knows that the ultimate reality is beyond this physical world.
  • Active in using God-given talents, being responsible and caring for the poor and needy.
  • Using prayer and other spiritual weapons to call for God’s help and protection.


Some people have missed the plane or their flights because they overslept. Similarly, those who sleep in spirit may miss their flight to heaven.  Therefore, let’s STAY AWAKE, so that we can catch the flight to heaven – the flight whose departure time we don’t know!  STAY AWAKE ALWAYS! AMEN!

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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