I hadn’t planned ahead for Advent reflection material, but fortunately Facebook came to the rescue with a posting by Ignatian Spirituality, and I printed out their 8-page pdf that outlines daily scripture for Advent and Christmas. Ironically, the passage for Monday was the centurion of “under my roof” fame, which is a missal change that I particularly dislike. Perhaps a prayerful rereading of the actual passage will help. I really tried to keep an open mind, but the story only reinforced my reaction! The centurion speaks of Jesus coming under his literal roof, his home, to physically heal his servant who is paralyzed. With the new language of the mass that speaks of Jesus coming under my roof – just before receiving communion – I can’t help it but it calls to mind the roof of the mouth, not my home or my being. And completely opposite of the actual scripture passage, the effect is “my soul shall be healed.” I started to laugh at the sheer ludicrousness of it, but it quickly turned into sobs. Help, God – what am I to make of this? Is this what you want??
The next day’s passage was troubling because of its implicit supersessionist view of the Jewish faith. Jesus rejoices in the disciples’ mission work. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. Kings and prophets have longed to see what you see but have not. I was reading this only an hour before heading off to my weekly Jewish class. How do I relate these words of Jesus to what I learn on Tuesday mornings about this other vibrant faith that pre-dates Christianity? The calling of the first disciples came next. They leave their nets and follow. The guide suggested Ignatian Contemplation for this Gospel story – put yourself in the scene. Well, up close like that, my clearest impression was that it’s a story about men. I tried my best and did ponder an image of Jesus. What must he have been like to garner such an immediate and decisive response? I struggle to imaginatively experience such a call. What to make of this? On Thursday Isaiah wrote about a just city being protected, while the lofty one is reduced to rubble, trampled by the poor. It was particularly appropriate as the previous evening I had attended the swearing in of the new Village Council and earlier that morning had also been present for the Council’s first meeting to assign roles and committees. The fiscal problems currently faced by Amberley Village dominated my final year on Council. The challenge of shrinking revenue and rising expenses are mirrored everywhere. How to create a just city in a time of scarcity? Again the question surfaced, what am I to make of this, God? Ah, but it is Advent, the season of waiting.
Today Jesus healed two blind men. They call to him, he responds by coming to the house (entering under the roof!), touching their eyes, and they see. I place myself here with ease. Please, help me see! But before the healing, Jesus asks, “Do you believe I can do this?” Rather miraculously, my response arises immediately from within — yes, I do.
Photo by Joana Roja via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.