The Advent of Our Attentiveness

He is Jesus: the One God recognized even by a pagan Centurion (Mt. 8:5-13), whose beloved servant was paralyzed and suffering, yet whose faith anticipated the touch of Jesus to come to the rescue.

Indeed, it is the Lord who comes to us in this holy visitation at Mass in word and sacrament.

In the old translation we prayed:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

In the new translation we pray:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

The centurion's watchful eye had taught him everything he needed to know about Jesus, whose very words contained the power. And so he petitioned Jesus to heal his servant. As Jesus acquiesced, prepared to come directly to perform the healing, the words of the centurion's faith and humility admit something profound. Jesus' great power and authority is so potent that he need only speak it, and the healing will be manifested.

And so, our new prayer at this point in the Mass is this direct iteration from Matthew 8:8, the centurion's response to Jesus: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed. Only we will not pray for a servant's healing, we will be praying for our own.

What more appropriate prayer might we make during this holy season of Advent?

Think back to that first Advent—the season in which the Lord was not recognized in his First Coming.

There was no room at the inn, no place to lay his infant head, save the arms of his parents. Yet, still he came in obedience to the Father, responding to the world's deepest need, in the form of a little child.

It is the profound and sublime coming that we are called to not only witness but receive at each and every Eucharist, the coming of the Lord to his People.

May we have the confidence of the centurion at every Mass we attend. And in terms of Advent, may we indeed prepare our hearts and our homes, in hope of the Lord's entering in. May our reception of his coming be truly joyful.

12/1/2011 5:00:00 AM