Monday of the First Week of Advent
Anticipation, a major theme of the Advent season, is generally understood as a time of joyful waiting and fervent hope for the good that is to come. The Psalm refrain “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord,” reflects this positive outlook. For some of us, however, anticipation might mean an uneasy concern or even anxious fear. We have not yet arrived at the other end, at the unknown. The faith of the centurion mentioned in the Gospel for today makes all the difference in the attitude we embrace.
The centurion has certainty about the outcome of his request, for as he approached Jesus he said to him, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” Jesus answered him immediately, “I will come and cure him.” The trusting centurion expressed incredible faith and humility in his response, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” He knew that it was not necessary for Jesus to be there in person; his very word would heal.
Would that our faith were as strong! During this time of waiting we are on a pilgrimage of sorts, leading us to something not completely known. As we journey through life, and more immediately, through this Advent season, some questions might guide us on our way: “Where are we going? Who will we meet along the way and how will we treat them? What do we hope to find when we arrive?”
In times of uncertainty and anxiety, it is perhaps easier to think of ourselves rather than of the common good. However, if our journey is faith-filled, our own heart can expand to include all those we encounter–the hungry, the neglected, the disagreeable. For Christians, Advent is a time for reflection about the coming of the Lord in our positive responses to unexpected encounters. When we arrive at the end of this Advent journey, may we hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
Katarina Schuth, O.S.F.