The Advent Spirit

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“’Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion answered him, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.’” (Matthew 8:6-8)

During this season of Advent, one of our most common hymns is “Come Lord Jesus!” Come Lord Jesus the light is dying, the night keeps crying: Come, Lord Jesus. Christ, come quickly, there’s danger at the door, poverty aplenty, hearts gone wild with war, there’s hunger in the City and famine on the plain. Come, Lord Jesus.

As we call on Jesus this season of Advent, the Centurion in our Gospel passage gives us the right disposition and outlook that should necessarily accompany our call.

We learn from the centurion to have the attitude of humility bearing in mind that we are indeed not worthy to have Jesus come to us. In this season of Advent, we must strive to free our hearts from arrogance of any sort. Humility is not just a matter of thinking less of myself, it is thinking big of the God I serve.

If only I knew how big God is, I would not underestimate prayer. Indeed, rather than see prayer as a waste of time, I would consider each minute I spend praying as a privilege. The centurion teaches us not to take God for granted because no matter how big and important we are in life, we are mere dust before God.

Secondly, we learn from the Centurion the need for faith. He had no iota of doubt in his heart about what Jesus could do and he approached Jesus with the firm assurance that by simply speaking the word, his servant would receive healing.

As much as we are calling on Jesus to come again and be reborn in our hearts this Christmas, we need to redouble our faith in His power. Jesus was marvelled at the faith of the Centurion saying He had not found such faith even in Israel. Do I have such faith in the power of Jesus?

Thirdly, we learn from the Centurion the need to show care and concern for the people living with or working for us. The fact that we are paying someone salary does not mean the person is less of a human being. At times, our workers are sick and we don’t even go to check on them not to talk of going out of our way to find solutions to their problems.

The Centurion going by his name must have been a busy man because he was in charge of a hundred soldiers. Yet, somehow, he found time to come looking for Jesus because of his servant; not even his son; not even a soldier. He could have simply left the servant and hired another, but he knew how to act better.

As we prepare to welcome Jesus this Christmas, let us remember that the same Jesus who was born in a manger, about whom the angels sang is the same Jesus who said: “When I was hungry, you gave me no food, sick and in prison and you did not come to visit me.” Christmas is, first of all, a celebration of love and if I don’t show love to those less than me, I have failed Jesus.

Fourthly, this encounter between Jesus and the Centurion gives us a glimpse of what God has in mind for us in sending his son Jesus to be born as a man and live among us. The plan of God for mankind is to see that man lives in perfect peace and goodness. Sickness, diseases, hunger and war are not part of this plan.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, bring us healing and teach us to trust you like the Centurion. Amen.

Bible Study: Isaiah 4:2-6, Psalm 122:1-9 and Matthew 8:5-11).

Fr. Abu

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