When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The little child asked her catechism teacher: Why Advent? Can’t we go straight to Christmas?
St Charles Borromeo in one of his pastoral letters has an answer. He says we need Advent at least once a year so we don’t forget: “The Church urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us.” In school terms, it’s an annual teachable moment.
We forget things so easily, don’t we– birthdays, passwords, meds–often at our peril. Advent comes to the rescue, like the string of old tied around the finger to remind us to do something important. Not once, but in the course of four weeks.
That something important is savoring the awesome event of Jesus coming to be one with us. Four weeks is hardly enough time to prepare for that, but we do our best. The Scripture readings each day are a gold mine. They express the longing of nations for the Promised One. They tell of a new age about to dawn. Isaiah consolingly predicts, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
Each Advent the dream is remembered again. This year, let’s “climb the Lord’s mountain,” you and I, and make it happen!
—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.
O God, we ask your blessing upon us – especially our memories—as we recall how you left the comforts of heaven and became one with us on Planet Earth. You invite us to be part of Jesus’ great Mission. Give us generous and glad hearts so that we not only remember but also make new your presence throughout our world. Amen.