Monday, November 28, 2011

Only Say the Word

November 28, 2011

Monday of the First Week of Advent

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD! Isaiah 2:4b-5

When Jesus 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." The centurion said in reply, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. Matthew 8:5-8


…The wait's begun again,

The long wait for the angel,

For that rare, random descent.

(Concluding lines from "Black Rook in Rainy Weather" by Sylvia Plath. Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas by Plough Publishing Company. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008. P 15.)


That Roman centurion was probably sporting a decent sword tucked into a sheath on his belt as he approached the Lord. But Jesus saw beyond the garb of the an officer of the occupying belligerent force which enforced foreign rule over his homeland. The Roman centurion also did not let his position of power in the military impeded him from approaching the Lord with humility. Despite his occupation, the centurion was certainly walking in the light of the Lord.

Our study of these readings invite us into Advent. We are invited to walk in the light of the Lord like the centurion. We are invited to relinquish our swords. We are invited to fellowship with Jesus -- whether or not we are Roman or Gentile, American or immigrant, 99 percent or 1 percent. However, like the Roman centurion, we must recognize what we have in common with Jesus. Even though we are dirty rotten sinners, can we approach Jesus in our sinful state and ask him to include us in his feast of forgiveness, reconciliation and, ultimately, resurrection?


What symbolic swords do we need to beat into plowshares and pruning hooks? What do we need to overcome during this Advent of preparation and waiting? Of all the implements that the sword is being replaced with, the prophet Isaiah uses the image of a pruning hook. What will that pruning hook chop off of us? Like it severed the pride and rank of the centurion, what do we need pruned from our vines?

Are we hiding behind something? Can we set it aside so that we are ready for the coming of the Lord when He will enter under our roof in just five short weeks?