Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard from the Scriptures firstly about the anticipation of the coming of our Lord Jesus, as promised by the Lord, in the visions and promises shown by God to His servant Isaiah. And this is the essence of the season of Advent, which is about the waiting, the expectation and the anticipation for the coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
As mentioned in yesterday’s homily, the celebration of Christmas must be centred in Christ, and not on other things. Our joy and our rejoicing must be focused on the Lord, for it is indeed not about us but about Christ. Yet, many of us and many in this world has the wrong priority in how they celebrate Christmas. They put themselves first when they rejoice and when they celebrate, worrying about what gift they will give or receive, what will they wear at the celebration, what will they eat and drink, and how they will celebrate.
God is easily forgotten out in that manner, and instead of being the focus of our joy, we make ourselves, our ego and greed as the focus instead. That is why, in this season of Advent, it is important for to us to spend some time, all the more why the Church gave us this excellent opportunity of having the four weeks to discern, prepare and anticipate for the coming of our Lord Jesus.
We should read carefully and discern what we have heard in the Gospel today. The words of the army captain or centurion is what we have always recited during the Mass, which I am sure we have come to many times and we may even have memorised the words by heart. But when we say it, do we say it with proper understanding or instead just merely saying it out of familiarity and routine?
‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof’ is the sentence uttered by that army captain, as a sign of great faith and respect which he had for the Lord Jesus. He believed wholeheartedly that God would be able to heal his servant to perfect health, and at the same time, he also understood completely how unworthy he was to accept the Lord at his home, the home of a sinner and an unworthy man.
We have to understand it based on history, and how the perceptions of the Jewish society was at that time. The army captain was likely to be a Gentile, or a non-Jew, whom in the eyes of the Jews at that time, they were seen as pagans and unbelievers, in the same rank as those like the tax collectors and prostitutes. We can already see how the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law criticised Jesus in several occasions for coming into their houses, sitting and dining with them at the table.
Therefore, the army captain might have felt uncomfortable that this good and wonderful Master and Lord would want to come into his house, the house of a sinner in the eyes of the Jewish people, and therefore, he instead made an even more powerful profession of faith before the Lord. He believed that God would be able to heal His servant just by an order. Most people would want the Lord to touch them and to do something for them so that they would be healed, but this army captain believed so much that he knew that the Lord would heal his servant just by a word from His mouth.
And thus for his faith, the Lord rewarded the army captain greatly and acknowledged his faith before all. Now, let us all ask ourselves, in this season of Advent, we are preparing and anticipating for the celebration of Christmas, but at the same time we are also aware that the Lord will come again as He had promised us. So, when He comes again, are we ready in our hearts, minds, souls and bodies to welcome Him?
Let us take heed the examples of the army captain and his faith. That is the kind of faith that we must have every days of our respective lives. We must understand that we are all sinners who are unworthy of the Lord, and yet God still wants to help us and to save us from our destruction by our sins. Then, if the Lord is willing, are we willing to accept Him and welcome Him too?
Let us use this time of Advent meaningfully, so that we will be able to prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally that when Christmas comes, we will be able to celebrate it with true joy and with proper focus on our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Come Lord Jesus, come and save Your beloved people. Amen.