November 28, 2022
by Tom Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the First Week of Advent
Lectionary: 175

Isaiah 4:2-6
Psalm 122:1-2, 3-4b, 4cd-5, 6-7, 8-9
Matthew 8:5-11

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Today’s first reading was written seven hundred years before Jesus Christ came among us. It tells of the consequences of constant enemy attacks on Israel. One would think that we would no longer find these words relevant. We should have evolved as human beings to the point that we would find that constant warfare was unconscionable. We clearly can find points of reference for the horrors of war in our own time. Isaiah’s words remain painfully pertinent. The people of whom Isaiah wrote were traumatized and struggling survivors of war. They were the remnants, the seed, and the hope for the redemption of their nation. Yet even these brave survivors were warned that God intended to further refine and purify them. He would wash away the “filth” [sin] and with a “blast of searing judgement” purge the blood of battle from their midst.

Isaiah’s initial words in this passage indicate that these survivors will form a branch of the Lord that will be lustrous and glorious. This “fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor” for the survivors. Christ would come from these branches. The sign of the Lord’s protection and guidance for Israel’s people was, as it had been for Moses and his sojourners, a cloud by day and a pillar of flame by night. Signs of God’s care and love for His people that already had endured for 700 years. Their response, and ours should be, “Let us go rejoicing to the House of the Lord.”

Jesus, like most of us, seemed to enjoy coming home. Mathew relates in chapter 8 that he was met on this homecoming to Capernaum by a Roman Centurion. This man commanded 100 men and had considerable local authority, yet he approached Jesus with humility. “Please, Sir,” he said, “My servant is lying at home paralyzed and in great pain.” Those of us who are older and/or familiar with the Latin mass, are imprinted with the words that he subsequently said:” Domine non sum dignus,ut intres sub tectum meum; sed tantum dic verbo, et sonabitur puer meus.” “Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus was amazed at the faith and humility of this Roman officer. His faith surpassed that of many of the Jews. We can learn from this humility, respect for others and an understanding of the true source of authority. Jesus was able not only to heal the servant, but also demonstrated the destiny of Christianity as a faith based on love and open to all people.

We have supplanted in the Mass the words “and my servant will be healed” with “my soul [anima] will be healed.” We approach God with humility and faith as the centurion did. As we humbly and faithfully receive the eucharist, we not only will bring Jesus into ourselves, but in this way, our souls will be healed.

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