MONDAY 1ST WEEK OF ADVENT GOSPEL REFLECTION: THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION (Mt 8:5-11)
Gospel of Monday, 1st 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 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.
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission)
The centurion’s faith
- 5-13 “Centurion”: an officer of the Roman army in control of one hundred men.
- This man’s faith is still an example to us.
- At the solemn moment when a Christian is about to receive Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist, the Church’s liturgy places on his lips and in his heart these words of the centurion, to enliven his faith: “Lord, I am not worthy
- The Jews of this time regarded any Jew who entered a Gentile’s house as contracting legal impurity (cf. Jn 19:28; Acts 11:2-3).
- This centurion has the deference not to place Jesus in an embarrassing position in the eyes of his fellow Israelites. He shows that he is convinced that Jesus has power over disease and illness; he suggests that if Jesus just says the word, he will do the needful, without having actually to visit the house: he is reasoning, in a simple, logical way, on the basis of his own professional experience.
- Jesus avails of this meeting with a Gentile believer to make a solemn prophecy to the effect that his Gospel is addressed to the world at large: all men, of every nation and race, of every age and condition, are called to follow Christ.
Dear brethren in Christ, as we commence this Advent season, Our Lord put to us the centurion’s example of humility which led him to say: Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. He knew that Jews acquire a legal impurity when they enter a gentile’s house and he wanted to avoid that for Our Lord. Besides, he considers himself unworthy to have Him in his own house and is convinced that only with one word from Our Lord, his servant would be healed.
The centurion’s humility was what Jesus praised in the faith of the centurion. For HUMILITY IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL VIRTUES, and faith is possible only if humility is present. It was the door by which the Lord entered so that the centurion could fully possess what he already had (Cfr. St. Augustine, Sermon 62,A,2).
Humility is one of the virtues most proper to Advent for there is no other virtue which disposes one to welcome the coming of the Savior. As St. Bernard said: “Behold the greatness of the Lord who enters the world, the Son of the Most High … and made flesh, is placed in a poor manger … And love humility, which is the foundation and guardian of all virtues … Seeing God so diminished, is there anything more unworthy than man’s claim to magnify himself on earth?“(Sermon on the Lord’s Nativity 1, 1).
Let us ask God through Our Lady’s intercession for the virtue of humility and strive to acknowledge ourselves as we really are, with our shortcomings, our weaknesses, and our nothingness. But convinced that with God and our collaboration, what is human becomes divine.
A blessed Monday of the 1st week Advent to all. Stay safe and God bless,
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
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