Monday of the First Week of Advent
When the LORD washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion, And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst with a blast of searing judgment, Then will the LORD create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her place of assembly, A smoking cloud by day and a light of flaming fire by night. For over all, the LORD’s glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain. Isaiah 4:4-6
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” Matthew 8:5-7
Piety “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. “
Study God promised. Jesus delivered. Of all the words in the readings today – many very powerful – our first Monday of Advent preparation can focus on three little words – “I will come.”
Throughout biblical history, the people waited for God to deliver upon the promise made by and through prophets through the ages. The Lord not only delivered by coming into our world, he is willing to come into our very homes and bodies to provide compassionate healing.
“I will come.” In the first reading from Isaiah, we learn that when the Lord comes, there will be cleansing by fire and smoke. No longer will people look to earthly rulers for shelter and protection – the protection of the widow and orphan (the “anawein”) was, after all, the duty of the government and the king. Instead, God promises that He will provide that refuge, that shelter, that protection. Not just symbolically, as in Isaiah’s writing, but in actually as Matthew explains with the centurion’s story.
“I will come.” Advent is when we await the tangible presence of the Lord. In today’s first reading, that presence is symbolized by the smoke and fire. In the Good News, it is symbolized by the direct encounter that the centurion has with Jesus. In the New Testament, we trade symbolic presence for actual presence as the centurion and the Lord have a direct personal encounter. God is as real as the clouds of the daytime and the fires that light the darkness.
One contrast is between the safety and security of the tabernacle in which we are unworthy to enter and the fact that the Lord comes not only down into our world, but is willing to enter into our house and our very being. When Jesus becomes aware of a need, he does not have to weigh the pros and cons of what to do. He reaction is simple and simply: “I will come.”
In response to His presence, nothing is more necessary than that we follow our mission in life. Through that action, we will earn our worth before Christ. The centurion recognizes the power he has over the men in his command. However, despite that positional power, he still makes himself subordinate to the Lord.
The protection of the Lord extends beyond the Israelites. The prophet Isaiah writes that the Lord’s protection will extend “over all.” We see that prophecy come to fruition in the encounter with the centurion. Jesus could just as easily healed someone in a Jewish household. But, as a sign that His protection extends “over all” and that His church will increase, he cures a member of the centurion’s household.
Action Jesus’s protection extends over all – including us as well. How will we use the example of the centurion’s faith to build the Kingdom?
Tomorrow is “Giving Tuesday.” It is a “created-event” for charities in which people are encouraged to turn their focus away from the consumption of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the 23 shopping days left until Christmas. Consider pledging some volunteer time or financial support to a charity that features compassionate healing in honor of the cure of the centurion’s servant. That healing can be at a disaster site like Illinois tornadoes, the Philippines typhoon, or people afflicted with mental health issues like the late son of Virginia State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds who committed suicide after attacking his father last month.
Whom will you come to cure?
Posted by The Lighthouse Keeper at 4:09 PM