1st Week of the Advent
1st Reading: Is 4:2-6
On that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel. He who remains in Zion and he who is left in Jerusalem will be called holy: every one marked down for life in Jerusalem. When the Lord washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion, And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst with a blast of searing judgment, Then will the Lord create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her place of assembly, A smoking cloud by day and a light of flaming fire by night. For over all, the Lord’s glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain.
Gospel: Mt 8:5-11
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 man 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.”
SELFLESS FAITH: The gospel presents the faith proclamation of the Centurion who pleads for the healing of his servant by Jesus. The Centurion was a pagan-gentile-soldier of the Roman army. Yet he believed that the words of Jesus had power, similar to the power of his master’s words over him and those of him over his servants. So, he believed that the words of Jesus could cure his servant. Jesus admired the faith of the Centurion saying that such faith was not found nowhere in Israel. Jesus was impressed because the Centurion asked for the healing of his servant, not for him. He was an officer, yet he was humble. Jesus declared that heaven belonged to all the people of the world who have faith like this Centurion. We shall examine: Do we pray for others? Do we have humility? Do we have faith?
Prayer: Lord God, we pray that we may intercede for others with humility and faith.
GOD’S AUTHORITY: When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, he did more than a miracle. He demonstrated for everyone something that the centurion had already recognized; Authority. More specifically, Jesus demonstrated that he possessed the absolute authority of God incarnate, the authority that only a Creator has over his creation. Prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s authority over the people of Israel when he says, “In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it…” (Is 2:2-4). God is the absolute authority. The centurion humbled himself in front of this absolute authority; Jesus. When faced with challenges and problems, do we put Jesus as the authority over our life? Do we believe like the centurion that he will help us overcome all?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may I recognize your power over me.
NAVIGATING A CHANGING WORLD: The indwellers of Zion, will find the Lord as a mighty tree, towering over all. It is such a wonderful canopy which shields all from untoward happenings all along. It is indeed a reassuring image of God over his people. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from heat and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain, (Is.2: 6).‘Lord, I am unworthy to have you come under my roof’. This Gentle declaration of faith mingled with humility is an inalienable verse of the Holy Eucharist. And the gentile centurion’s words are repeated innumerable times world over whenever and wherever Holy Mass is celebrated. Oh, what a place of dignity is accorded to this. We live in a world of competition where one tries to supersede the other. While on a mad rush to reach one’s ambitions, persons fall by the way side. There is a rat race to reach the top. The centurion is a noble example of lifting up and affirming the weak and laggard, the ‘insignificant’. May our life be an attempt, a role-play of this noble example. Let’s assuage the feelings of and affirm the marginalized around us.