Gospel: Matthew 8:5-11
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.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”
When the centurion tells Jesus about his ill servant, Jesus’ response is wonderfully two-toned. The Greek can be translated, as it typically is, as “I will come and cure him.” But it can just as easily be translated as a question rather than a statement: “Shall I come and cure him?”
Advent is a time in which we await the Lord’s coming. But he also awaits ours. God doesn’t force himself on us. What he desires is a loving relationship, not a master/slave one, and he realizes—as do we, in our better moments—that such a relationship can’t be coerced.
Think about the significance of the holy day ahead of us, the Nativity of the Lord. God could’ve incarnated in a cinematic special-effects way to so cow us that we’d fall to our knees and do obeisance out of fear and trembling. But he didn’t. He came to us as a powerless infant who puts himself in our hands.
So the God who seeks our love is content to ask each of us “Shall I?”, and to wait with patience and longing until we say “Yes!”
At which point, he’ll joyfully reply: “I’ll come!”
This Advent season, be mindful of the different occasions in your daily life where Jesus asks, “Shall I come?” Sometimes we can be too busy to hear his question.