Readings for Monday of the First Week of Advent: Isaiah 4:2-6; Psalms 122:1-9; Matthew 8:5-11
I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11
Today's Gospel reading reminds us that, more than anything else, what Jesus asks of us is to humbly trust in His will. Indeed, what caused Jesus to "marvel" at the Roman centurion was his humility -- "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof"-- and his simple faith that Jesus could heal his servant with only a word. By recognizing his unworthiness, the centurion was made worthy. Thus from this humble expression of faith Jesus proclaims that "many" will come and "sit at table . . . in the kingdom of heaven"; the New Jerusalem where, as Isaiah prophesies in the first reading, those who remain "will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life." (Isaiah 4:3)
Of course, it is the same spirit of humility shown by the centurion that allows us to sit at the Eucharistic table of the Lord at Mass. For each time we consume the body and blood of Jesus, we get a foretaste of the heavenly banquet that awaits us in the New Jerusalem. Moreover, this heavenly food transforms us and prepares us for that day. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once explained:
In receiving the Eucharist, "[t]he living Lord gives himself to me, enters into me, and invites me to surrender myself to him, so that the Apostle's words come true: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me' (Galatians 2:20)."
And as the manna sustained and strengthened the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land, so the Eucharist sustains us on our journey toward the kingdom of heaven. As we continue that journey this Advent, let us partake of it as often as we can.
God love you.