“Advent is a season of silence and rest with God. Take time to focus and examine your conscience. What is the shape of your emptiness? How are you still connected to God’s abiding beauty? This Advent, how will you fulfill the work of giving Christ life?”—Caryll Houselander, woodcarver and mystic
“When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.'” —Matthew 8: 5-6
Advent is a time of ambiguity. It invites us to embrace conflicting images. Not to harmonize them into one, but to simply let our soul be tempered and strengthened by the fire this conflict creates.
In the story of the centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant, we have the warrior and the weak. Our imagination expects several things.
First, since Jesus has just healed a leper, one of the least of these, maybe he’s tired and doesn’t need to heal again.
Second, Jesus isn’t a collaborator with the Romans. Why would he even speak with a centurion—storm trooper of the state?
Third, we expect the mighty centurion to ask for something for himself or one of his family—not to act with compassion for a servant.
Finally, we don’t expect the Roman commander to become an occasion for Jesus to be amazed, saying, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
Today, pay attention to your response to ambiguity.
Breathe in. Breathe out. It’s Ad…..vent.