Faith of the Centurion

Homily for Monday of the 1st Week of Advent

Our first reading this morning from the Prophet Isaiah really sums up what we are looking forward to during this Advent season. In this particular passage, God is speaking through the prophet about the promises that He has made to His people. It’s a message that reassures the people of Israel of the days when they will experience glory, joy, and liberation. He promises to deliver them from the hands of their enemies. It’s a word of fidelity from the Lord, a guarantee that He will never forget them and that He constantly has them within His heart.[1]

That promise for them was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the one who would bring that liberation, who would have dominion over all. He is the one who has come to rule over all the nations. He is the one who destroys wickedness, who frees the world from the grip of sin and death. It is He who makes it possible for all of us to one day live in the presence of God, to dwell with Him for all Eternity, enjoying the fullness of His love and grace. As Christians, these are all things that we know.

And yet, the interesting point that our readings make today is that so many of the Jewish people failed to recognize who Jesus truly was. They failed to see Him as the Messiah, as the One whose coming had been foretold. As we have seen so often throughout Scripture, the people that we least expect to recognize Jesus as the Messiah are the ones who do just that – like the Centurion in our Gospel today. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah. He knew of the power that Jesus had within Him to heal his servant. He humbly came to Jesus and asked for that healing. Because of that, Jesus performed this miracle.

Who are we like? Do we have the faith of the centurion? Or are we more like the Jewish people who failed to recognize Jesus as the Savior? I think each of us goes back and forth between those two. Because, let’s be honest, if we wholeheartedly believed that Jesus was the Messiah, we wouldn’t struggle to trust Him completely; we wouldn’t constantly need to seek His mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation. But thankfully, He’s patient with us and He gives us countless opportunities to hit the reset button in our lives.

Let’s make this season of Advent one of those opportunities. Over the next few weeks, let’s be serious about inviting the Lord more deeply into our hearts. Let’s make this season count so that when Christ comes at Christmas, our hearts will be ready to receive Him. 

[1] Adapted from a reflection on the readings for Monday of the 1st Week of Advent by David Kang.

Painting: Jesús y el centurión by Paolo Veronese. Public domain. Wikicommons.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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