Monday of the First Week of Advent
First Reading, Year A: Isaiah 4:2-6
First Reading, Years B & C: Isaiah 2:1-5
Gospel Reading: Matthew 8:5-11
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Psalm 122 describes the image of “the house of the Lord”. In this Old Testament passage, “the house of the Lord” refers not to Heaven, but to the sacred, earthly city of Jerusalem. The passage also mentions that Jerusalem sits atop a mountain (not on the scale of the Rockies or Himalayas, but a mountain as considered by the ancient peoples of the Holy Land). That “the house of the Lord” sits atop a mountain implies an ascent, which in turn implies personal sacrifice. One must stretch and climb to reach His house. We can relate this ascent both to the long course of Old Testament salvation history, and to our own religious practices during the Season of Advent. Keep in mind that Advent is a penitential season.
Today’s Gospel passage presents the Lord’s response to such human initiative. The pagan centurion not only shows initiative in appealing to Jesus, but also faith. This pagan utters the cry that each of us echoes before Holy Communion: “‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.’” Jesus responds to him with a prophecy that fulfills Isaiah’s: “‘… many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.’” Jesus adds further to the direction given us by Psalm 122 and Isaiah 2, by pointing our attention beyond any earthly city to the heavenly Jerusalem.
This prophecy can be fulfilled in your own life only because God the Father took the initiative of sending His Son down to be our Messiah. Jesus offers us the fruits of His sacrifice on the Cross through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Each of us, even if a member of Christ’s Body from birth, should not presume on God’s grace, but imitate the faith of the pagan centurion. Make a two-fold prayer on this first weekday of Advent. (1) Pray that many others will come to Jesus in Holy Mass. (2) Pray that you will generously take the fruits of the Eucharist to many others though the sacrifices of your daily life.