Monday of the First Week of Advent
(Isaiah 4:2-6; Matthew 8:5-11)
Why is a gospel passage glorifying faith used on the first weekday of Advent, the season of hope? Perhaps it is to show the intimate relationship between the two virtues. The centurion comes to Jesus believing that God has given him the power to heal his sick servant. He does not even insist that Jesus see the sick one but only to pronounce a word of life. Of course, he is not disappointed.
Many pilgrims come to Lourdes almost desperate – that is, almost giving up hope – but with a faith that approximates that of the centurion. The experience of common need which the pilgrims share often transforms them. It confirms their faith and lifts their hope to a higher level. Being cured is no longer of paramount importance. What they now desire is to accompany the Lord.
Faith and hope would be illusions without love. Love for his servant brings the centurion to Jesus, the incarnation of love. Both ask nothing for themselves but only to assist others. We believe in Jesus because he has demonstrated his love for us. And because we hope to encounter him, we demonstrate the same love for others.