‘Awake, O sleeper!’

Fourth Sunday of Lent 2021

Second Reading

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the EPHESIANS….

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I say to you that many people around the world are asleep and though they think they are not asleep I would argue that they truly are. In fact, they would claim their eyes are awake, their hearts are true, but I tell you, their very actions show to the world they are not awake in the lord! With that said, I am not going to point fingers at individual people, nor am I going to say, ‘if you do this or that you’re not a Christian’, rather I am going to call out the sin of the many and reach out to those who are asleep in Christ Jesus. With that said, today’s reflection is going to be harsh, uncomfortable to read, and perhaps sobering to your faith. You can’t say I didn’t warn you…

So, my favorite thing about Ephesians is that Paul was dealing with the same issues as we are today which makes this Epistle so relatable. The message of Ephesians shows how anyone who is in Christ sits and rules with Him in the Kingdom of God. It draws a fine line between those who know God, experience God, and understand His mercy and those who are asleep, consequently the ‘sleepers’ of the world are in full-on rebellion against Him. Make no mistake this goes beyond people who are like-minded but rather extends deeper into our most basic needs and how they are fulfilled. Ephesians also addresses the practical issue of Christian unity. Again, make no mistake, we are in a war against sin in all its forms, and those who give up and give in become enslaved to its many forms, especially hate, which I will address later in this reflection.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”


A Modern Example – Blatant Acts of Hate!

In cities around the world, there is a rise in hate crimes, most especially against non-whites. The last four years I sat and watched how one person’s words influenced thousands and those who fell into the rabbit hole fell asleep because it is easier to be dead in Christ than it is to pick up your cross and follow, i.e. own your own sin! The lack of empathy is more prevalent in the world as a whole and this shift has endangered and killed millions! We are our brother’s keepers, we are all called to testify and to love one another. So, rather than mention names I will talk about deeds and I think you all will know to what and to whom I speak clearly about.

What is hate? Is it a misunderstanding when a random Asian American is pushed to the ground upon his face so hard that he dies because of his injuries? Older Asian Americans who are vulnerable because of their age are being targeted. What have Asian Americans done to deserve such hatred to be perpetrated against them? Need I remind everyone about the contributions of Asian Americans.

Asian Pacific Americans developed fields, helped log the forests, labored in fisheries and factories, and helped to develop the backbone of our economy. Boeing’s first aeronautical engineer, Wong Tsu, was Chinese. The Chinese railroad workers built the transcontinental railway and today’s Chinese and other Asian software engineers are building today’s super information highway. Asian Pacific Americans have stood up through our history for civil and human rights.” – By acrscommunity  Posted May 24, 2017

What about African Americans? Enslaved, beaten, worked to death, murdered in cold blood, and separated from their families and children! What did they do to deserve this treatment? Perhaps, the religion of the South in the 1700s-1800s set the tone that America still is entrenched with taking away blacks’ hard-earned privilege, undermining civility, and in some extreme cases blatantly exuding hatred and racism beyond the pale! What really is disappointing is that after the 2020 election 33 states introduced 165 bills to restrict blacks from voting! The Good Old Boys Party (GOP) strikes again! Bold disenfranchisement coming once again from the old rich white men against the African American Community seeking to keep blacks from exercising their American Right to Vote! We are so past Jim Crow, we are so far beyond the arguments and anger of the 1800s being revisited because the South can’t get over it! Can’t face the fact they lost the Civil War! Lincoln freed the slaves. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a whole host of other civil rights leaders have changed America, making it fairer, but we still have miles to go to make the dream real! All of the above is an excuse to hate! I say to you my brothers and sisters, 11 ‘Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

The Legacy Museum

Most notably, what about the Native Americans’ plight? Here we have the root of our evil deeds. White America wipes out millions of indigenous people! American expansionism on display and justified! Taking of land, killing innocent men, women, and children because they happen to be on land the good old boys club wanted. We still are dealing with this war crime! “12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.


About the Sin of Hatred

Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5 (MEV Bible)

We are called to ‘put away lying, let every man (person) speak truthfully with his neighbor, for we are members of one another’ Eph 4:25. So, how do we do this when there are sleepers all over the place rebelling against God? I have been pondering this for four years and wondering how so many Americans can be asleep. Without being political, religion and faith should be a guide to morality. It should be the measure by which we treat each other. Jesus said his followers stand out because of their love, kindness, and grace. Christians are followers of Christ no matter their religious orientation. To treat others with anything other than love, kindness, and grace is not acceptable. Words are a sword when used in anger and hate. All those little lies grow into sin which begets unforgiveness which turns to hate out of ignorance or sheer laziness. The darkness of hatred builds up in the soul and turns it hard little by little and eventually, the heart becomes enslaved and the individual who allowed this condition to take place within God’s house, (the physical and spiritual body) falls asleep in Christ.

Above are but three examples in our shared American history where oppression has been doled out by those who are asleep. ‘Wake up!’ The feeling of anger by itself is not a sin, for Jesus showed anger. God has shown His anger throughout the Old Testament. “Be angry but do not sin! Do not allow the sun to go down on your anger.” – Eph 4:26-27. Clearly, many of our brothers and sisters have allowed the sun to sit on their generational anger and feelings of being replaced by people of different ethnicities. This brings me to my final point, there is no excuse to do wicked deeds, there is no favor that will save you from doing what you know is wrong. Washington is besieged by people who are not working for the greater good and who cleverly mince their words and mislead millions because of their lies. It is a shining example of the rot and darkness which has almost snuffed out the light of good. It is but one example of how one man’s ignorance has spread to infect like a disease the rest of America. I leave you, my brothers and sisters, with this quote, ‘Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners.’ – Eph 4:29

Give grace with your words and actions. Call the darkness for what it is and have nothing to do with it. Do not lie, cheat, or steal from your fellow brothers and sisters. Run the race with your eyes wide open and do not allow sin to take you over forcing you to fall asleep! Remember, to stay awake in the Lord daily! Walk in the light of God always. Do not misuse His words or grieve the Holy Spirit of God. For those of you who turn from darkness and face the light, take up your cross and own your sin then repent, you will be sealed for the day of redemption. This is what I want for the entire world as does God!



Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, Forever and ever. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, a world without end.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’


Brother Brian

Copyright ©2021 by Brian K. Stark. All rights reserved.

Permission to print for personal use only.

True Mercy

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ~ Luke 6:36 (NRSVACE)

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In many ways, mercy begins and ends with love. Case in point, God created the Earth and everything on it (Genesis 1: 1-24). He loved us first in the very act of preparing a place to which we could survive and live in His grace. Furthermore, God’s love is taken to an even higher level through the very act of making us a reflection of Himself (Genesis 1:26) creating us in his own image. In these two thoughtful actions, our all-powerful creator proves His agape love simply by including us in His universal plan. But God didn’t stop there for his love still rises higher through a conscious purposeful choice to meet our sin with mercy expressed in the form of an undeserved-forgiveness that is rooted deeply within His all-powerful, all-consuming, and all-inclusive love (1 John 4:16). Therefore, my brothers and sisters in Christ our mercy for each other is one of the greatest ways we have to emulate His very first acts in loving us. (Eph 5:2) Thus, to be merciful encompasses every physical act, every word spoken, and every thought we think, or share with and for others.

The Many Faces of Mercy

Putting God’s Love First

Because God does not always confront our sin with judgment rather in most instances our sin is met through his mercy as a sinner in need of Jesus as our Savior. Therefore, Jesus when asked what was the most important of the commandments He responded with, 37 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Because Jesus placed love above all other things, and because Jesus is the earthly representation of Our God in heaven, love must come first. We are therefore commanded to love God and our fellow human beings. When we place love above anger, above our selfish wants, and human greed we become capable of being loving in our actions, words, and thoughts. Our life no longer revolves around our own egos and selfish desires but around others in union with God. From this union we emulate God through the forgiveness of others, we show mercy by helping those less fortunate, and our words become laced with a pearl of kind wisdom. This is the first face of mercy rooted in God’s agape love.

Mercy Builds Hope for the Future

Hardheartedness feeds selfish desires, it propagates loneliness, and in the guise of unearned self-promotion breeds fear and hopelessness. Then God’s plan is thrown to doubt by a sinful, resentful, and evil-minded society. Looking forward becomes a painful proposition which is shrouded in pointless repetition. Still, our God looks through the unhappiness, selfishness, and ego-centric lives who have been caught up in this web with nothing but undying love and a deep longing to bring the many sinners into His light of mercy because He is love. Therefore, when we surrender to God we allow Him on a daily basis to chip away at our hardheartedness so we, through His mercy, can look forward with nothing but a concrete hope for the future. When we emulate God in this way our words even when we are angered, or embarrassed, and perhaps blamed thus tested beyond our ability to cope will be nothing but kind and filled with the truth of reason. Hateful words or phrases that people often spew such as, “You are an embarrassment!”, “You are stupid!”, “You ruined our reputation!”, or “I hate you!” will be met with a calm steel and skillful love. Words of scorn shot down by words of mercy which will move hearts to a future of greater love. This is the second face of mercy rooted in God’s agape love.

Mercy Makes Forgiveness an Imperative

A hand given to lift a person from where they have fallen, food given to the hungry, medical attention given to the sick and dying, or the invitation to a safe place to find rest, all are examples of the greatest works of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ which was so urgently demonstrated during his life. Mercy given in such ways makes the human heart desirable to God, which brings one closer to God. It is so easy to ignore our brothers and sisters in need as our human hearts sometimes silently blame the less fortunate among us for some unknown bad decision they may have made which led them to such ills. But in the eye’s of God, the act of mercy through forgiveness puts judgment aside and His healing love becomes the central focus. For the Lord God, kissed the leper, fed the homeless, and cleansed the sick all of which are mercies we can also grant to those in need. When we forgive we invite the mercy of the Holy Spirit into our lives and thus lead others to do the same which in turn lifts the human soul up as Jesus had done. This action of mercy makes forgiveness the imperative bringing countless of God’s underserved into His divine love. This is the third face of mercy rooted in God’s agape love.

Mercy Gives Rise to Joy

Kindness in actions, the kindness of words, and kindness rooted in mercy are all found in every page of the Holy Bible. God’s message for humanity is clear. The mercy God grants is a renewing and redeeming, “encounter between two hearts: the heart of God who comes to meet us and a human heart.” (Pope Francis, 2016). In this exchange, God’s love and merciful heart is the source which leads to salvation and a rebirth of the human heart which is lifted up and cleansed; raptured in joy despite our human sinfulness. The greatest example of this is the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross. The mercy granted in that act of taking our sins upon Himself redeemed the world of its sin. Within this exchange, the human heart finds that it is a “new creation” (Gal6:15). “I am loved, therefore I exist; I am forgiven, therefore I am reborn; I have been shown mercy, therefore I have become a vessel of mercy.” (Pope Francis, 2016). Being a vessel of mercy opens the doors to love which gives rise to a greater joy! This is the fourth face of mercy rooted in God’s agape love.

Let Us Pray!

In honor of those who have been killed in Gilroy, Ca. – El Paso, Texas – & Dayton, Ohio.


Catholic Health Association of the United States

Loving God, you are the author and sustainer of our lives. You know the anguish of the sorrowful, you are attentive to the prayers of the brokenhearted. Hear your people who cry out to you in their need; strengthen their hope in your lasting goodness. 

We pray today for those who have died because of violence, of terrorism. Draw them to yourself; let your face shine upon them. May they be greeted with choirs of angels and experience your eternal peace and joy. 

Be near to all those who have been touched by violence: those who have been hurt, lost their loved ones or lost their sense of security. Be for them a steady comfort and safe resting place. 

Soften the hearts and steady of the minds of those who would do violence to others. May hate be replaced with love, violence with peace and darkness with your light. 


Glory to the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia.

Cross of Salvation

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’


Brother Brian
Knights of Columbus 
St. Louis de Montfort Council 11137 Inservice to one. In service to all.

Copyright ©2019 by Brian K. Stark. All rights reserved.

Permission to print for personal use only.