Monday, 2 December 2019 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into the season of Advent, all of us are called to prepare ourselves fully and well for the upcoming celebration of Christmas, the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ into this world for the first time two millennia ago as a little Child in Bethlehem, the moment when God’s long-promised and long-awaited plan of salvation came into its final fruition.

On this day we are called to reflect on God’s love and kindness towards us, His strong desire to reach out to us and to heal us from our brokenness, sinfulness and unworthiness. Through our Scripture passages today, we are called to remember just how fortunate we all are to have this such a loving, compassionate and caring God as Our Lord and Father. He never ceases to care for us, provide for us and protect us from harm all these while.

In our first reading today, from the passage taken out of the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the prophecy of the Lord spoken to His people, whom at that time were already brought low after centuries of divisions and misfortunes because of their own sins and refusals to obey the Lord and His commandments. The northern kingdom of Israel and the ten tribes of the people of God had been crushed by the Assyrians and were brought to exile in far-off lands.

That was why at that time, the prophecy of the Lord that He spoke through His prophet Isaiah was truly a very delightful and awaited promise, as the Lord promised the coming of His deliverance and salvation, the Shoot of the Lord, a reference to another part of the Book of the prophet Isaiah where the Messiah of God was referred to as the Shoot of David, promising that the Saviour would come through the House of David, and restore to the people of God the true joy and happiness that they once enjoyed.

This is what He has fulfilled by sending His own beloved Son to us, Our Lord Jesus, Who came into this world to be the bearer of the Good News and truth of God, calling all of us to be redeemed and to be gathered back into His presence, reconciling us to Him by absolving us from our sins and disobediences. In our Gospel passage today, we heard of how the Lord reached out to likely a Roman army centurion or commander.

In that occasion, the Lord encountered an army commander who sought Him to heal his servant who was truly dear to him. The Lord was astonished at the great faith which the army centurion had in Him because the army centurion had such a great faith that he knew that by the commands and power alone, the Lord could heal his servant without any doubts at all. That was why he asked the Lord that He should just merely say the word, and the servant would be healed.

And he made such a profession of faith that he humbly said before all, how he was not worthy to accept the Lord coming into his house. He made such a comment first of all because it was likely that because he was a Roman and non-Jew or Gentile, for a Jew like the Lord Jesus to enter into the house of a Gentile would be considered to be unbecoming and even terrible especially by the Jewish authorities.

That was why the army centurion did not want the Lord to come into his house, and this is also then supported by what is likely to be his own personal humility and faith as well. For a person with such a high rank like that of the centurion, and as a Roman who at that time was seen as in every way superior to the local Jewish population, for him to humble himself before everyone else showed just how great a faith and love he had for God, that he willingly threw away all pride and ego, and humbling himself in seeking the Lord.

The attitude of the army centurion can indeed be contrasted with those of the Pharisees, the elders and the teachers of the Law. The latter had seen so many of the Lord’s miracles and yet they refused to believe in the Lord. Instead, they continued to doubt Him, oppose Him and worked their hardest against Him. Compare this to the army centurion who believed in the Lord and did not even need to see or witness the miracle from the Lord directly in order to believe in Him.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having contemplated how the Lord loves us all so much, and also on the humility and faith of the army centurion. The Lord wants us all to know how precious and dear all of us to Him, and through what we have heard in today’s passages, distinctions between Jews or Gentiles, or in any other ways that we have often classified ourselves no longer stand before Him, for every single one of us are equally beloved by God.

In this time of Advent, as we proceed through our preparations for Christmas, let us all therefore put our effort and endeavours to grow in love and faith towards the Lord, and let us strive to have the same faith as what the army centurion had, that in everything we say and do, we will always glorify God, and put Him at the very centre of our own lives, now and always.

May the Lord continue to guide us through this season of Advent, that this time may truly be blessed and meaningful for us to be able to celebrate the true meaning and joy of Christmas. May God bless us always. Amen.

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