When he returned he found them asleep.
He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
Rick to his beloved Ilsa, “I’d bet they’re asleep in New York. I’d bet they’re asleep all over America…”
Sleeping is more than a bodily necessity; sometimes it's a way of coping; it puts off till tomorrow what we cannot face tonight. Jesus' disciples had enjoyed a full day in preparation for the Passover. The full meal and ample drinks of the supper rested comfortably in their bellies. They looked forward to a night of rest. Perhaps they quoted the King James Version, "Sufficient unto the day is the trouble thereof." as they wrapped themselves in their cloaks and found some kind of comfortable position on the ground. They had faithfully, wearily followed the Master to the Garden. Who could fault their drowsiness?
But like Rick's America, they were sleeping in the face of impending horror and didn't even know it.
The drama of Holy Week arrives faithfully each year. We may have prepared for it with several weeks of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We might have pored over the scripture passages proffered by the Church. Perhaps we have noticed the unpredictable weather, a harbinger once known as "March madness," before the expression was co-opted by admen.
Or, perhaps, like most people at the approach of Holy Week, we've been sleepily waiting for summer, hardly noticing the ominous signs.
He said to them in reply, “In the evening you say, ‘Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red’; and, in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.
Despite our sociological, economic, political, military and ecological sciences we have little ability to predict the future. Hurricanes, fires, mudslides, wars, recessions, depressions, plagues, suicides: they find us sleeping and unprepared.
I remember a friar whose doctor repeatedly warned him about his high blood pressure. Even I could see the confusion that hovered around him when it was very high. The day finally came. Arriving at the airport by taxi, on his way to another important engagement, he found he could not open the door or move his right leg. As he struggled to cope with the massive stroke he'd often say, "Lord I am willing to accept whatever you give me, but I wish you had given me some warning!"
No one can predict the future but we can stay awake and watch as it arrives. We can follow the Lord to Gethsemane to watch and pray with him. We can follow him to Calvary, the tomb and Easter.