Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Advent of our Attentiveness - my latest at Patheos

In this, my final column in the series on the new Roman Missal, I pick up on the themes of the early Gospels in Advent, and the response of the Centurion, whose words we make our own as we respond to the invitation to partake of the Eucharist. Here's the heart of it:

The Gospel, echoing the Prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist, speaks ofthe raising of the voice -- proclaiming -- not just watching. For Advent isalso about speaking and doing… of reacting to what one knows to be true. 
These words beckon a holy disposition… not only watchful waiting, butof solemn preparations and vocal proclamations telling of our love for the OneWho is to come. The One who is soon to arrive in our midst bringing his powerand his glory. 
In this, the final article in this column’s series on the people’sresponses in the updated Roman Missal,we discover at the words we utter as we prepare to receive Jesus in theEucharist. 
They have everything to dowith a careful watchfulness and a proper preparation for a divine encounterwith the Lord. The same Lord, who, remarkably, comes via the Incarnation as oneof us, just as surely as he surpasses us in wisdom, power, and glory… comes tocure us, forgive us, and save us.  
He is Jesus: the One God recognized even by a pagan Centurion (See Mt 8: 5-13) … Whose beloved servant wasparalyzed and suffering, yet whose faith anticipated the touch of Jesus to cometo the rescue.  
Indeed, it is the Lord who comes to us in this holy visitation at Massin word and sacrament. 
In the old translation we prayed: Lord, I am notworthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. 
In the new translation we pray: 
Lord, I am notworthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soulshall be healed. 
The Centurion’s watchful eye had taught him everything he needed toknow about Jesus, whose very words contained the power. And so he petitionedJesus to heal his servant. As Jesus acquiesced, prepared to come directly toperform the healing, the words of the Centurion’s faith and humility admitsomething profound. Jesus’ great power and authority is so potent that he needonly speak it, and the healing will be manifested. 
And so, our new prayer at this point in the Mass is this directiteration from Matthew 8:8, theCenturion’s response to Jesus: Lord, I amnot worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and myservant shall be healed. Only we will not pray for a servant’s healing, wewill be praying for our own. 
What more appropriate prayer might we make during this holy season ofAdvent? 
Here's the whole thing.

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