- Monday of the First Week of Advent
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, increase my faith, hope, and love. I believe in you because you are Truth itself. I hope in you because I trust you and have confidence in the promises you have made. I love you because you have loved me first, and because you are so good and worthy of my love.
Virtues: This Roman centurion begged a Jewish rabbi to heal his servant. He showed uncommon concern for his servant. He also demonstrated great faith, treating Jesus like a real person, not a talisman. He understood that Jesus’ power and authority came from God, and not through mere physical touch or magic words. He was able to stand before Jesus, assess the situation, and humbly make a suggestion. “You are the Lord; why not heal my servant immediately, right here?” We know how Jesus reacted; he was “amazed” at such faith. Thus the centurion is a model for us of humility, faith, and love of neighbor.
Peripheries: The Roman centurion belonged to the invading army of the empire. His mere presence, “with soldiers subject to him,” was an affront to all Jews at the time. Yet, here he was, showing “amazing” faith in the Lord. Jesus promised that “many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Of course we are hopeful we will see our loved ones one day in Heaven, but how ready are we to share the banquet table with acquaintances, strangers, and perhaps enemies?
Expectations: What are we hoping for this Advent? Perhaps we have one overwhelmingly pressing need–"a servant lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully”–or perhaps there are many concerns in our heart. Do we bring these worries to God? Are we waiting for the coming of the Messiah, Our Lord, confident in his power to transform hearts? Or have we perhaps let our spirit grow weak, to the point of eliminating all expectations? Jesus is coming. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and he wants to renew our hearts this Christmas. Let us open the doors of our hearts to Baby Jesus.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am not afraid of letting you into my heart. You are the God who likes to be pleasantly surprised by the faith of your children. I believe in you; increase my faith and expectation this Advent!
Resolution: Since, like the centurion, I am an unworthy servant of the Lord, I will consider confessing my sins to a priest in the sacrament of Reconciliation sometime before Christmas.
For Further Reflection: Frank Sheed’s book To Know Christ Jesus is an excellent read about the life of Christ. The first seventy-five pages or so, which deal with Mary, Joseph, and the birth of Jesus are particularly good.
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