Today, we increasingly hear about being “woke.” In this Vincentian Mindwalk, I will try to move beyond any narrow political meanings.

First some background

Pardon the pun, but some are just waking up to hearing about being “woke.”

One hundred years ago, it was slang for those with dark skin to have their eyes open and be vigilant when traveling in white areas.

But today,” woke” means different things to those on the left and those on the right.

On the left, to be “woke” means to identify as a social justice advocate who’s attuned to contemporary social inequities. Often, it’s a point of pride to be called “woke.”

On the right, “woke” — like its cousin “canceled” — bespeaks “political correctness” gone awry. It’s a term of great derision.

Let’s explore its meaning in a theological framework.

Moving beyond being politically “woke”

We all know what “waking up” means.”

Sometimes, an alarm clock wakes us up from sleep. We become aware of our surroundings.

At other times, something suddenly makes sense. We see new meaning. We change our ways of thinking.

Jesus is the Word who wakes us up!

His words wake us from unconsciousness about our original sin of radical self-centeredness.

What we forgot

We so often forget God has first loved us into existence… and continues to love us no matter what good or bad we do. “Can a mother forget her child?”

Unfortunately, many think we have to change God’s mind about loving us by getting everything right!

But Jesus, God’s Word, wakes us up to the “Good News.”  We can’t force God to love us!  God already loves us… and always will!

Jesus simply asks us to “remember“ that God loves us. We are each God’s sons and daughters!

Jesus loved everyone, shockingly, even those who put him to death. That is the “scandal of the cross!”

The challenge – “love your enemies” certainly calls for a change in our mindset “look out for number one”  and an “eye for an eye!

“Good News” is not something we wake up to once and for all. We will only be fully “woke” when we “pass over” into the eternity of God’s kingdom.

Until then we are caught up in the process of daily dying to the original sin of our self-centeredness and waking up to understanding what we say without appreciating – OUR Father!

The word Jesus uses for his wake-up call is “repentance.” Its root meaning is “change your way of thinking.”

A follower of Jesus spends a lifetime waking up

Waking up does not happen once and for all with our Baptism. In our earliest hours and days, psychologists tell us we thought we were the center of our universe. 

We spend the rest of our lives overcoming our self-centeredness.

Marriage and family are for most the schools where we are first challenged to learn this.

Over time, we realize families come in different colors and dress differently than our “tribe” or closest family group.

Another awakening is that no one, not even ourselves, is perfect. Each one of us struggles and needs loving support.

Unfortunately, we still get caught up in thinking everyone must look like us, think like us, celebrate like us. We struggle to learn from and be enriched by our differences.

So, yes, Catholics should be “woke” …  and waking!  

We will struggle until the day we die to wake up to the implications of being individually and collectively the Body of Christ.

“Do this in memory of me!” A profoundly “woke” people!

  • How “awake” are you that God deeply loves you?
  • Are you waking up to the challenge to love others as you  have been loved?”