Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we begin the first of the weekdays of Advent, and appropriately, as we prepare for the coming of Christ, we are reminded on our humanity, and our frailty, one which needs help from the Lord. We heard this from the story from the Gospel, where Jesus healed the servant of the army captain, and the humility and faith of the captain, which he showed in all sincerity before Jesus.
We are all definitely too familiar with the words that the army captain had said, “I am not worthy that You, the Lord, should enter under my roof.” That is the statement that we always recite and repeat all over and over again every time we celebrate the Mass, just after the Agnus Dei, or the Lamb of God hymn. The other statement, “But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” is certainly also a very familiar phrase to all of us, as this phrase is also used at the same time with the previous phrase.
These phrases were the words that the captain had said to Jesus, after he asked Him to heal his ailing servant, and he turned to no other help but Jesus the Lord. To some, the initial reaction of hearing these words would be that of detesting the captain’s arrogance. Some may even say, ‘How dare this captain say these things to the Lord when He had agreed to come and heal the ailing servant of the captain?’
This is our natural response, but we have to look beyond the surface into the true meaning of those words the captain had uttered. The captain in fact had so much faith in the Lord Jesus, that he knew even if Jesus did not come physically into his home, He, as the Lord of all and Almighty God has the power to heal his servant at that moment even there, where the two of them were far away from the captain’s home. Such was the faith of the captain, that he believed completely in Jesus without question.
But that is not all that there is in the faith and devotion of the captain. The captain’s response to the Lord also showed the quality and the truth about his faith and devotion. Not only that he is devoted to the Lord and placed his full trust in Jesus, but that he showed great humility and understanding of his own unworthiness as he sought the Lord for help with his servant.
All of us are sinners, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all sinners ever since our ancestors first disobey the instructions and the will of the Lord, but we are not lost. Our Father and Lord loves us still, and He proved that to us by sending Jesus His own Son to us. Yet, many of us still deny our sinfulness and turn our back to the salvation which Christ has offered us freely.
That is how Christ praised the faith of the army captain. He may be an army captain, and to many people of his time, he may not be seen as someone who will do good deeds or have faith in God. Worse still, the army captain, as it was during the dominion of the Roman Empire, may well be a Roman centurion. And the people of Israel looked at them with disdain, treating them as pagans and unworthy of salvation.
Yet, you knew what happened. Jesus praised the faith of the army captain, not just because of his total dedication, but also because of his humility, a great humility indeed, to realise his sinfulness and unworthiness, to the point of saying it publicly that he was not worthy to have the Lord at his home. And compare this to the faith of the Pharisees, as you all notice that they are the ones considered holy and pious by the people. Yet, they were arrogant and proud, disdaining the sinful while not realising that they themselves were sinful too.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, now we all know the meaning of the words we always say at the Mass. From now on, every time we say those words the captain had once said, let us remember the faith of the captain, and also try to emulate the faith he had. We have to be aware of our own sins and unworthiness, while at the same time, trying our best to dedicate ourselves to the Lord without being taken in by the temptations of the evil one.
May the Lord who rewarded those faithful to Him, also reward us in the same way, and that we may realise the depth and gravity of our sinfulness, and therefore strive to draw ever closer to the Lord our God, seeking His generous mercy and love, that we may strive to be more like Him, and aspire to reach the heavenly glory that He had promised us. Amen.