Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this season of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas, through the words of the Sacred Scriptures we heard today, all of us are being reminded that there will be the time when the Lord comes again in His glory, to gather us all, His beloved people and all of His faithful ones, that all of us may find rest and true happiness in Him. And we are reminded too that we should have faith in God and in His providence, and that in Him we shall have sure hope of eternal life and salvation, and we should believe in Him wholeheartedly and sincerely, devoting ourselves, our time, effort and attention to serve Him in each and every moments of our lives. Especially also during this Advent season, we are all called to rediscover our connection and strengthen our relationship with God, Whose coming celebrate this upcoming Christmas.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah regarding the promises that God brought to His people regarding the coming of the time of glory, joy and liberation for all of them, as He will deliver them from the hands of their enemies. The Lord never forgets all of them and has always put them in His thoughts. The Lord proclaimed of the future coming of His eternal and righteous dominion over all, when He will rule over all the people and the nations of the world, and where the old wickedness, evils and filth of this world will all be swept away and replaced with the righteousness and justice of God. They will all live in the presence of God, enjoying the fullness of His love and grace, and they will not suffer or have any more need any longer, because they will find perfection with and through God.
And that is what we are looking forward to as we journey through this season of Advent, in preparing ourselves for the joyous and glorious celebration of Christmas that is coming soon. We all know that Advent is a time for preparation for us so that we can celebrate Christmas worthily but how many of us truly know what it is that we are really celebrating in Christmas and its significance to us? Christmas marks the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour, the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has dwelled in His mother’s womb for nine months, and then appearing to us in the flesh, as He was born into this world, that the Saviour of this world finally made His appearance and became tangible and approachable by all of us. In Christ is the culmination and the completion of all that God had proclaimed and reassured His people with, all the promises of salvation and grace.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard a seemingly different narrative, that of an army captain or centurion whose beloved servant was very sick to the point of death. This army centurion, which by the conventions of the time was most certainly not a Jew, and might likely be a Roman, a pagan and outsider by the standards of the people living in the land of Judea and Galilee back then, came to the Lord with great faith, one that the Lord Himself praised before all. For this army centurion, although one of high rank and therefore would have been expected to demand assistance from the Lord, instead humbled himself before everyone who might have witnessed the encounter between him and the Lord, and he had so much faith in the Lord that he went all the way to Him by himself, asking Him personally for the favour for his servant’s sake.
Peculiarly, we may also notice that the army captain also said to the Lord that He should not come to his house when the Lord was making a move towards there, because he was unworthy to have Him enter under his roof. This is the same phrase that we mention every time the priest in the Holy Mass raised the Most Holy Eucharist, the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord before us after the Agnus Dei or Lamb of God, saying, ‘This is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb’, and we respond with the exact same words that the army centurion had spoken. This is the profession of our faith and also our humility, realising just how unworthy we truly are for the Lord to come into our midst, and yet that is what He had done for our sake.
Back then, what the army centurion had done was also very shrewd and right, as it was considered taboo and wrong for a Jew to enter the house of a pagan. According to the strict observance of the Law by the Pharisees and the elders, that would have made the Lord Jesus and His disciples unclean by merely stepping into the army centurion’s house. Hence, the army centurion might have wanted to prevent that unfortunate circumstance, which would have generated more reasons for the enemies of the Lord to attack and persecute Him all the more. But nonetheless, what matters is that the army centurion had such great faith in the Lord that essentially he did not have to witness the Lord actually performing His miracles before his own eyes in order for him to believe in Him.
Contrast this to the attitudes of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law and all the elders who continued to doubt and question the Lord, refusing to believe in Him and His truth, and even accusing Him of blasphemy and colluding with demons when they themselves had seen many miracles and wonders performed before their own eyes, and heard all the wisdom and good things that the Lord had spoken before them, and which had fulfilled the prophecies and predictions made by the prophets, a fact that they were all certainly familiar with. What is the reason then for the contradiction and contrast, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because for all of those people, they had no faith in them, and in their pride, ego and self-righteousness, they had closed the gates of their hearts and minds against God.
Hence, today as we continue our journey through this blessed season of Advent, let us all reflect on our attitudes in life, in our way of life and in how each one of us have responded to God’s call in our lives. In our preparation for Christmas in particular, have we realised and understood the true meaning and importance of Christmas to us? Or have we allowed the extreme commercialisation and secularisation of Christmas to affect and influence us? It is not wrong for us to celebrate Christmas the way that we are familiar with, but we must not allow that to distract us from appreciating and celebrating the true meaning and importance of Christmas. We should do our best to observe Christmas with the true spirit and understanding of what we are celebrating, and we should maintain our focus on the light of truth and salvation that Christ has brought into our midst.
May the Lord, our God and Saviour, born into this world and incarnate in the flesh, revealed to us and through Whom we have been made sharers in God’s most generous love and inheritance, continue to guide us in our journey of faith through life, and may He strengthen each one of us in our resolve so that we may always be ready to follow Him and walk in His path at all times. May God bless us and our every good endeavours and efforts, all for the greater glory of His Name, and may He help us to prepare ourselves well so that we may indeed welcome the season of Christmas worthily with faith and true joy, in Christ, the One in Whom we truly should be celebrating and be rejoicing about. Amen.