December 01, 2014
Monday of the First Week of Advent
Gospel Mt 8:5-11
The account of the centurion strikes me as a man worthy of ponder and emulation.He is a gentile but a military leader, someone of influence who has 60 to 100 men under his supervision. Being in the Roman army he is supposed to show virility, rule, power, and control over his men. So that if one of his men happens to be paralyzed, he can just command the others to look into this Healer who performs miracles, find out if it is true, and if so, summon Him to come to the barracks to relieve his sick man and cure him of his illness. What the centurion does, however, is he believes in Jesus right away and as soon as Jesus enters Capernaum, he approaches Him and explains the case of his palsied servant who needs treatment. When Jesus resolves to go to restore the sick man to health in the residence of the centurion, the latter responds in earnest request that Jesus just speak a word and the ailing man will be healed. With this reply, Jesus gets astounded at the demonstration of great faith! We may infer that Jesus is pleased and that is why He says, “… many will come from the east and the west,” meaning the heathen “and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,” connoting that these many who will have faith like a little child, will be saved. This is a beautiful pronouncement from God which indicates that faith translated into obedience just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob receives God’s grace. It is a gift which only He and He alone can give.
This gospel is a clear eye-opener for leaders. The centurion shows that leaders are compassionate who look after the welfare of their constituents. They are concerned and take care of the needs of their men. They are calm even in the currents of adversity yet resolute in the search for solutions to their people’s troubles. They are submissive in the service of men and before Him who is God, humble and steadfast.
The gospel also indicates the qualities of Jesus who is the Physician. He goes out of his way to cure the sick no matter what their status in life is. He sees their plight and comforts them just as He heals the paralyzed and terribly suffering man as entreated by the leader. He does not actually wait for the unwell to come to Him. Instead He wishes to go to them – a scene so different from the modern physician we see now. He does his work with love and care like no ordinary duty and responsibility.
As we therefore reflect on the Advent, which is the coming or the arrival of Christ, may we remember to try to take the proactive role of both the centurion and the Physician. Whether we are leaders in the classroom, hospitals, community, government, business, or other areas, we have indispensable roles to fulfill.In fact, God grants in all of us the trait of a leader which means that all of us can lead in doing wonderful work. Because of this, each us has a Capernaum. It is going to be worse if we have been led to it but have not even spotted it, or we probably have seen it but have just remained at the threshold. We are called on to enter it, and when we do, may we be workers working under the heavens. Such is one of the meanings that we can give to the Advent and to Christ.
Claribel C. Concepcion
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences