Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday word, 04 Dec 2006

1st Advent Monday (04 Dec 2006) Isaiah 2.1-5; Ps 122; Mt 8. 5-11
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Between But Not Stuck

Our lives are located between two Advents: between Jesus’ birth as a human being, the good news of the divine promise in flesh and blood; and between his glorious return as Son of man, Lord of all.

Jesus abides with us at each moment between his two Advents. In fact, Jesus is with us more powerfully now than he was when he walked the earth, preached, healed, suffered and died. How? Because our risen Lord is present in and through his Spirit, whom he has given us.

Living in Jesus’ Spirit registers in us in a variety of ways, that is, ways humans experience Jesus in his Spirit. St. Paul named one of them--joy.*

Christian joy is a confident assurance in Jesus’ abiding, powerful, saving presence. Christian joy pervades even in questioning, aching and distressing moments of life. This is the lesson the centurion teaches.

Was he a Jew? No. Was he a believer in the God of Abraham? No. Was he one of the least of the suffering, persecuted people of Palestine? No. The centurion was a God-fearer, to use the language Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries would have used. Those who respected God in some small way were not faithfless, and they demanded the respect and the thoughtful, considerate attention of Jews. Jesus made clear that they owed the centurion far more. He amazed Jesus, whose remark began as did all his no-nonsense, don’t-miss-it comments: Amen, I say to you, in no one in [God’s chosen people] have I found such faith. The centurion’s confident assurance models Advent living. And because we live between two Advents, that means we do well to make the centurion’s faithful joy our own each day.

* In Galatians Paul offered a catalog of works of the flesh in 5.19-21. Immediately he followed it with another catalog, the fruit of the Spirit, in 5.22-23. It is not our doing but gifts of the Jesus’ Spirit, which shape our ways of living and being in the world. We give ourselves either to one or the other. The vocation of each Christian life is to surrender to the fruit of the Spirit. To read both catalogs together helps us; to read one and not the other hinders us.

Photo by Radio Tonreg

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