LAST NEWS   Michel Quoist

translated by J. F. BERNARD

1. Loving one's brother today 9. My neighbour and I 17. In the image of God
2. If Jesus read today' s newspaper 10. My husband is not a Christian 18. The dead are aIive!
3. God's children go to school 11. The commercial smile and the Christian smile 19. The age of anguish
4. I'm too good a neighbour 12. There is someone among you 
you don' t even know
20. We have too much to do
5. I want to be Somebody! 13. There are too many people we just leave asleep 21. It's Christmas at our house
6. On God' s track 14. Our little girI is a young woman 22. The Christian in action
7. A Father's gifts 15. A miracle tranquilliser 23. My parents are divorced
8. Finding my place in the work of creation 16. Houses for the children of God 24. The rediscovery of nature

13. There are too many people we just leave asleep

Going over some of my notes last night, I came across this sentence of Saint-Exupéry' s which I had written down some rime in the past: 'There are too many people we just leave asleep.' It was there, in my handwriting, on the back of an old envelope. The Lord, in the twinkling of an eye (as he so often does), had given me a sign. I meditated in his light and did a rapid reappraisal of my life. Rather than judge those who sleep, and become discouraged over how many of them there are, I should try to wake them up and heap them to grow. How many times will Jesus have to remind me of it?

We are surrounded by people. Among them, there are some who are struggling to grow, to go beyond themselves, to fight alongside their brothers for justice, human dignity and peace. Among Christians, there are a few of these militants-so few, perhaps, that we can count them on the fingers of one hand.
Men exist as though life were a train roaring through the night. Made drowsy by the movement of the train, they sleep, and they are carried along. They were placed on the train. Do they know where they are going? Do they know why they are traveling? Will they wake up even when they reach their station?
It is terribly tempting to be discouraged when we meet someone who neither hungers nor thirsts-someone we know at work; a neighbor in another flat in our block; one of our friends. There is a multitude of people who are satisfied with themselves, whose stomachs are full, so to speak, and who are not interested in growing or in fighting for others. 'We have enough to live on,' they say. 'We'll get by' - as though man could 'get by' in eternal life! - 'and, so far as the others are concerned, let them take care of themselves. '
And yet, in our bodies, our hearts, our minds, we have been created to grow. We are designed for action. It is up to us to build the world, and all men are invited to participate actively in the human groups to which they belong.
Mankind itself, as a whole, must continue to progress in time. We must take part in that ascending spiral: our sons must be greater than we are, and their sons must be greater than they. God wants us to grow. Like any father, he cannot bear to see his sons become weaklings or cripples, either in body or in mind. All men are called to be perfect, as their Father in heaven is perfect. All human groups are called to become a community in Christ.

Regardless of appearances, we should not judge others, for people who appear te be sleeping may actually be meditating;
people who appear to be unenthusiastic may actually be under strict self-control;
people who appear to be children may be wise old men.
Regardless of appearances, we cannot judge others since we do not know
what they have had to put up with,
what they have tried to do,
what has happened to them.

No matter how lacking in energy those around us may be, we must not be discouraged. For if a man sleeps, he is sleeping on a treasure: a hidden treasure which he may have buried, or one the existence of which he ignores-but one which, none the less, must be discovered, unearthed, revealed.
The human potential for development, for the giving of oneself and for human solidarity, can never be exhausted; for man is its source, and he is an infinite source. He has his origins in the eternal thought of God. Before the universe was created, man existed in God, in his love from all eternity.
Man is infinitely greater, more precious and more fertile than he thinks. When we have faith, it is impossible to despair of man. To do so would be an injustice to God. But there are men around us to whom no one will ever render the service of releasing their captive energies, their inexhaustible riches, their potential for commitment.
If there are men around us who are sleeping, it is because we ourselves are not sufficiently awake. We live with our eyes half closed, or looking up at the sky, or-more often fixed on ourselves; and so we walk through life without seeing the wounded and sleeping men by the roadside.
The hidden riches of a man are those of life, love and the
ability to give of himself We reveal these riches to him when we give him the opportunity to make use of them.

We must pay attention to other people, listen to them, so that we may ask them,
at the proper time,
in the proper place,
for the service, however small, that they can render.

When we waken a sleeping man so that he may serve his brothers, we must often ask him
first, to give something to his brothers;
then, to give them something more;
later, to give them something of his own-his time, for example;
finally, we must help him to give himself.

One day, this wakened man will stand astonished before the treasure which has been revealed to him, and he will say:
'I had no idea that I was capable of doing such things for other people.' At that moment, he is saved. Having begun to give, he will have begun to grow.
Such a man rediscovers the interior source of growth, and he is consciously in contact with it as it pours forth its energy. Soon, he will be able to give it a name; for that source in him is infinite love: God.
Jesus, always mindful of others, said first of ali to the Samaritan woman, 'Give me a drink.' And, because he awakened in her the source of giving, despite the obstacle of sin, she became capable of receiving the supreme revelation: ' "Whoever drinks this water will get thirsty again; but anyone who drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah-that is, Christ-is coming" . . . "I who am speaking to you," said Jesus,
"I am he" ,  (John 4: 13-14,25-26).

Lord, tonight I ask you to forgive us for all the men whose development has been arrested:
for the dwarfs, the weaklings, the deformed, the handicapped,
for all those aborted beings who have disappointed your paternal love.

I ask forgiveness for all those who sleep, or who are so paralyzed, frustrated, self-centered, indifferent, discouraged and disgusted
that they no longer try to grow,
that they no longer know how to grow,
that they no longer want to grow,
and who therefore put down their arms and withdraw,
leaving their brothers to fight alone.

Above all, Lord, I ask your forgiveness for myself.

I've passed by these wounded, captive ones
without seeing them,
or without going to them: 'He saw him, and continued on his way.'
I did not offer them the opportunity
to awaken,
to begin to live again,
to rejoin their brothers in battle.

Lord, let me sit each day at the side of the well,
tired, perhaps, but still alert.
Let me be the one who asks passers-by.
for myself and my brothers:
'Give me a drink.'

Forgive us, Lord, for 'there are too many people whom we just leave asleep'.