As I did last year, I will be posting Advent readings for each day. There is so much to be done this month, but I really am going to be intentional in focusing on Christ and the amazing gift he offers, and continues to offer.
Much of the material I will be using comes from a book that I have used for several years now. "God With Us". I like reading these words year after year, I see with different eyes with each reading.
Matthew 8:5-11, 13
Matthew's gospel tells about the centurion at Capernaum who asked Jesus to heal his servant in distress. "I will come and heal him," says Jesus. To which the centurion responds, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed." Jesus says the word and the servant is healed. Of the Roman centurion he then says, "Not even in Israel have I found such faith."
Faith does not assert claims; faith receives the gift that is undeserved. Faith is itself a gift, the gift of receptivity. Mary received the gift in saying, "Let it be to me according to your word." To her, and through her to us, was given the gift of the Child who is nothing less, no one less, than the Savior of the world. For us he lived and suffered and died; for us he was raised triumphant that we might, even though we suffer and die, forever live in his glory. The gift is already given and forever is now for those who give him permission to let life be a gift in response to gift. It really is a matter of giving God permission, as Mary gave God permission. He will not be the Lord of our life without our permission. Faith is giving permission.
(Our yes is required)
"Lord, I am not worthy." On our lips and in our hearts, these are words of surrendering love-of love surrendering to love. They are words by which we empty ourselves, to receive the gift. It we are full of ourselves, complaining about what we deserve and do not deserve, there is no room in our hearts to receive the gift. If we deserved the gift, it would not be a gift. "Lord, I am not worthy." With these words, we make room in our hearts for the gift.
Christmas is the giving and receiving of gifts. What a joy. What a hassle. What gifts to give to whom? What gifts to expect in return? The hassle surrenders to gratitude as we, setting aside all calculations of who deserves what, respond by giving as we have been given. "Lord, I am not worthy." With these words, complaints and grievances are banished. With these words, the gift is given to receive the gift of giving. With these words, faith gives permission for Christ to be in our lives Emmanuel, God with us.
Lord Jesus Christ, like the centurion's servant, we are in distress. Save us from the sin of presumption and complaint, for we have not claim on your love other than the promise that you love us. Purge us, cleanse us, empty us, open us, so that every moment becomes a gift in response to your gift of life eternal, beginning now.
Let it be.
The above is taken from "God With Us" this particular piece written by Richard John Neubaus.