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…”
We all enjoy a great party. Only a few people enjoy putting it all together. Christmas is an amazing party. Advent is all the work that goes into it.
The “Christmas” season is celebrated by just about everyone, Christians and non-Christians. But the Advent season is only celebrated by just a few Christians. We all know why. It’s hard work…and it has nothing to do with shopping.
The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. Many people shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths” (Is 2:1-5).
Highest mountain. Why is the Lord so hard to reach? Why is He so far above us? He isn’t. But when you are stuck in a valley, everything may seem out of reach.
The mountain of the Lord is high above us because we have sunk far below Him. We are in a valley of tears. And when you are in a deep valley, sea level can seem awfully high.
Let’s face it: sin destroys us. It kills us. It wipes out all our energy, our time, enthusiasm, joy. It wipes away the beauty of life. It belittles so much of what we are and what we do: love, family, children, marriage, Christmas, gifts, etc. It turns life into a burden. It tarnishes our incredible dignity. It diminishes our self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.
Let’s get to work! Advent is similar to free climbing. We need to learn how to defy gravity; that is, to place our feet in the tiniest of spaces and place our hands inside the tiniest of crevices. We can do it. We can all do it spiritually. What free climbers do with a mountain is restricted to those who are already in good health. But for spiritual free climbers, it is restricted only to sinners. We can all do it. How?
Lord, I am not worthy to have you. The centurion was a Roman. He was an official. He was a superior and a soldier. He was above many men and all the Jews and most likely, above their laws as well. And yet, he was humble enough to call out to a Jew, the Lord, and ask him to cure his servant. But not only that! He was humble enough to tell the Lord of his unworthiness. WOW!
In no one in Israel have I found such faith. Do you have this type of faith? Faith and humility go hand in hand. They belong to each other. They are inseparable.
Nobody likes to be told what to do. Nobody likes to consider themselves as “unworthy”. Nobody likes to think that their wealth is irrelevant, or that their power if limited, or that their days are numbered. Nobody likes to be subject to authority, not even to God’s authority. And when we sin, we are letting Him know what we think of it.
So what are you doing to increase your faith? The Pharisees spoke much about God but did not acknowledge the Son of God. The Scribes knew Scripture inside and out, and yet, they did not recognize the Lord. The chief priests were constantly offering up sacrifices to the Lord, but they did not offer themselves up to the Lord. Only the sinners, the gravest of sinners, I guess, acknowledged their sin and bowed before the Lord and rose above the rest. Only they arrived at the house of the Lord.
Advent is that time of year to help our faith progress; to remind ourselves that prestige, authority, health and wealth will never be enough to get us to the top of the Lord’s mountain. Holiness is not against any of these things; it is simply independent of all of these things.
But with God’s grace and my humility, all things are made possible: faith, hope and love are made possible. The Roman centurion possessed incredible faith and hope because he possessed incredible humility; Incredible, if you consider his position, authority, and power.
Authentic acts of humility are like tiny spaces and crevices in God’s mountain. These tiny openings, which appear to be useless to the untrained eye, are not. They are spiritual openings to God’s mercy and compassion, allowing grace to enter into our lives. They allow us to climb out of our pit and into God’s arms.
In this first week of Advent, let us focus on humility. Let’s focus on this little crevice and space that can provide giant leaps towards the house of the Lord.