Monday, November 29, 2010

His Glory Will Be Shelter

November 29, 2010
Monday of the First Week of Advent

Then will the LORD create, over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her place of assembly, A smoking cloud by day and a light of flaming fire by night. For over all, his glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain. Isaiah 4:5-6

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure him." Matthew 8:5-7

“Let the Word, I pray, be to me, not as a word spoken only to pass away, but conceived and clothed in flesh, not in air, that he may remain with us. Let him be, not only to be heard with the ears, but to be seen with the eyes, touched with the hands and borne on the shoulders. Let the Word be to me, not as a word written and silent, but incarnate and living. That is, not traced with dead signs upon dead parchments but livingly impressed in human form upon my chaste womb; not by the tracing of a pen of lifeless reed but by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Let it thus be to me, as was never done to anyone before me, nor after me shall be done.

“I desire that he may be formed, not as the word in preaching, not as a sign in figures, or as a vision in dreams, but silently inspired, personally incarnated, found in the body, in my body. Let the Word therefore deign to do in me and for me what he needed not to do, and could not do, for himself, according to your word. Yes, let it be done for the sake of the whole world, but specially let it be done unto me, according to your word."

(“In Defense of Humility,” Bernard of Clairvaux in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008, p. 43)

When the centurion approached Jesus and asked for help on behalf of the paralyzed servant, Jesus did not hesitate. Jesus did not have to consult his schedule on Outlook. He did not have to reach in his pocket for his Blackberry or iPhone. He did not have to rearrange his schedule. There was no negotiating for an appointment. No comments that I have to meet with the lepers on Tuesday, the prostitutes on Wednesday and the tax collectors on Thursday. No ESPN special about where Jesus decided to take his ministry next. “How about a week from Friday at 1:30 p.m.?”

Jesus said simply, “I will come and cure him.” Maybe Nike took a page out of Jesus’ playbook when they came up with the slogan, “Just do it.”

Imagine the similar scene in Heaven when God decided to send Jesus to earth to become man.

God: “Jesus, I need you to go down to earth and clean up the mess that man is making of his own life and all of our creation.”

Jesus: “I will go and save them.”

Jesus knew exactly what he was getting into from the beginning of time. Still, he never hesitates to be the wing under which we seek shelter and protection. As Isaiah reminds us, “For over all, his glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain.”

In addition to the lesson of decisiveness and willingness on the part of Jesus, today we also meditate on the lesson of the humility of the centurion. He, by his own admission, is a man of power who tells people what to do, where to go and when to go there. Yet he sets aside his position power and humbles himself before the Lord. This foreshadows the humility of the Annunciation. This foreshadows the humility of the Visitation and Magnificat. This foreshadows the manger-humility of the Nativity. And, dare we say so now, the humility of the cross of crucifixion, death and resurrection.

This humility and faith is what Jesus seeks in all whom he encounters yesterday, today and tomorrow as we prepare for his arrival again. "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith." (Matthew 8:10b)

Do you hesitate to ask God for help? God never hesitates to respond. “Just do it.” Just ask and you will receive.

Who is asking for your help? What is stopping you? The monthly budget? The holiday schedule? Are you hoping to look up that charity on Just do it. Just help.