An Examined Life

Posted in: Homilies

August 7, 2016 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

August 7, 2016
Luke 12:32-48
Fr. George Smiga

In today’s gospel, Jesus wants us to be vigilant, to stay awake. But why is this important to him? To answer this question, we have to understand what staying awake means. In the biblical sense, staying awake does not mean that we should try to get by with three hours of sleep or include Red Bull into our diet. Staying awake is something deeper. The Greek word to stay awake is also the word to stay alive. So Jesus’ call to vigilance is really a call that we live life as deeply as we can. You see, God’s will for us is not to run about hectically from one thing to another, become stuck in mindless routine, or give ourselves to something that is insignificant. Jesus calls us to live life to the fullest and to pull out of life as much joy as we can.

So how do we do this? How do we live life more deepIy? I can answer that question in one word: reflection. Twenty-four hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Socrates told his students that the unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates taught that we need to examine the lives that we live and the people we are. He was convinced that living was not simply about doing, but about reflecting on what we do and what we should do. Socrates understood that when we become busy, begin to struggle, or become distracted, reflecting on our life is something that falls by the wayside. But a life that is not examined quickly becomes empty and disassociated from purpose and meaning.

For Christians, prayer is a way to examine our lives. Prayer calls us not only to reflect upon the lives that we live but to situate our lives in our relationship to God. Prayer need not be complex or time consuming. Prayer can be as simple as taking five minutes each day to ask ourselves, “What three things am I thankful for today?” Once we identify those three things, we should bless God for those gifts. This simple exercise of reflection reminds us who the people are who loving us, what opportunities we might have to act and to serve, and how God is blessing us and directing us this day. In this simple reflection, we deepen our lives, and are more likely to live our lives with joy.

The unexamined life is not worth living. This is why Christians pray. This is why Jesus tells us to be vigilant, to stay awake. He does not want us to go through life sleepwalking or in a daze. He wants us to understand how much God loves us and how blessed we are to be God’s daughters and sons.

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