It is a state of sleepiness or being on the verge of falling asleep. It can also be a state of lethargy, fatigue, laziness, sluggishness or the absence of any physical activity. We’ve all experienced it but this is not what Jesus is talking about. His admonition is not against a physical drowsiness but a drowsiness of the heart. So what is the difference?
We must remember that for the Jews of Jesus’ day, the heart represented the center of a person’s being. It was the home of all emotions, passions, motivations and the person’s will. While we may think of the heart as a crucial organ of the body, for them—and, in a way, still for us—it was the very center of the human person’s transcendent being. In more modern terminology, it represented the very soul of the person, the center of existence.
Jesus concludes the warning, …from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life..” The first two are easily understood but the third, anxieties of daily life, deserves a closer look but first let’s recall the words of the priest immediately following the Lord’s Prayer at Mass: Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The connection is obvious. The anxieties of daily life cause us distress and can cause the heart to become drowsy. What was Jesus’ first word to the Apostles after His resurrection? “Peace.” This Peace is not as the world gives, but only as He can give through the Sacraments.