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Monday Musing – Advent edition

Readings for today can be found here.

Today’s Gospel invites us to consider something that may be hard for some to think about. Do you ever think about “who’s in?” And perhaps more importantly, “who’s out?”

Jesus was always reaching out to the edges, always gathering in. He never said, that we should look to those who stood in the center, those who were “in” for instruction or encouragement. From choosing the apostles, who were hardly the most experienced and who were not at all powerful, to his constant speaking and ministering to those on the margins, Jesus was always pointing to those who seemingly had no authority, and and letting them know that God was there for all of them.

centurionThe centurion was not necessarily poor, hungry, or lost in the conventional sense of the word, but his impoverishment came from concern about his servant, who was suffering. He may not have been a follower of Jesus per se, but he obviously understood – and believed – that Jesus could help him. So he asked. Remember, as a centurion, he could have demanded that Jesus do something, but no – he approached in humility and he made a request, believing that Jesus’ inner authority would bring healing. And healing to a person with absolutely no social consequence, a servant no less!

We see that Jesus understood that this man, not part of his world or followers, was a man of faith. Ultimately, it is what we don’t hear in today’s Gospel, but that we can read if we go to verse 13, is this:

And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.

So, when we consider who’s in and who’s out, we are invited to think about what Jesus asks of us. It can be so easy to dismiss people. And in our Roman Catholic Church, we can sometimes focus on rules to our detriment, to the point where we are not at all living the Gospel, because we spend our energies on exclusion and derision, rather than invitation, healing, and hope.

And it is Advent – so invitation, healing, and hope are brought into a sharper focus for us at this time.

St Francis Xavier the burning passion“What profits a man,if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” These are the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, speaking to Saint Francis Xavier’; today is his feast. Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier were originally both pretty “out,” as things went. Ignatius, who already had a change of heart about God, spent a lot of time working with Francis Xavier, who was apparently a very ambitious man. Ignatius helped turn his heart towards servant leadership that was based on the standards and authority of Jesus Christ, and not that of someone who was out to get the job done alone.

Such things changed the world and definitely changed who was in and out in a great way. Saint Francis Xavier went on to become a great missionary, going to India, Japan, and ultimately heading to China, when he died unexpectedly. He was definitely at the far edges, serving and gathering in others in Jesus’ name. Through encountering all the people that he did, finding people who were not “in,” he turned many hearts towards Jesus.

So perhaps today our Advent invitation is to look in our own hearts and ask about “who’s in?” and “who’s out?” We may find a lot of surprises there when we do this… And yet, we will also find in Christ, an invitation to come “in” by letting Jesus in, which will lead us ever to healing and hope.

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One Response

  1. Who’s on first, What’s on second, I don’t know on third and nobody is OUT. We just need to get to know their names and stories.

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