The Gospel according to Matthew (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.”
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.
Encountering Christ: Happy New (Liturgical) Year! Advent is a time when we especially ponder the great mystery of the Incarnation. It’s a time when we especially ponder the mystery of God coming and dwelling with us in physical form. Though this happened over two thousand years ago, it continues to take place at each Mass today. And at each Mass we are called to express the same words before we accept The Holy Eucharist into our hands. This beautiful statement of faith is used within the Mass to speak of two matters of faith regarding the Eucharist: 1) We are not worthy to receive Holy Communion and, 2) We invite Jesus anyway to come and heal our souls.
Jesus, of course, is quite impressed with this man’s faith and accommodates him with the physical healing of his servant from a distance. But Jesus does much more than a healing. He also holds this man up as a model of faith for all. He asked Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus agrees to come cure him, and the centurion exclaims this profound faith in Jesus stating two things: 1) He’s not worthy of Jesus’ presence in his home and, 2) His confidence that Jesus can heal his servant simply by saying the word.
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? 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.
Closing Prayer: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed”. I believe in you; increase my faith and expectation this Advent!
Action of the Day: What needs healing in my life? How will I heal myself today?