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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.” (Matt 8:5-7)
When Jesus uttered those words, did some portion of his body echo in resonant recognition of how well it reflected the divine plan of God? The centurion, a human man of capabilities and no doubt a measure of confidence, finds himself helpless against something he does not understand. He asks for help. He’s got the big picture — his servant is sick and suffering — but the details are eluding him. He knows the illness is wrong; he has no idea as to how to fix that.
Jesus acquiesces with almost casual simplicity and immediacy — as though he’d been waiting for this request all his life. He says, yes, he’ll go cure him.
How very like the beginning of all things. In Eden, humankind, full of capabilities and apparently too much confidence, brings on the fall. Paradise is lost and in our new brokenness we are infected with disease, sickness, death, and doubt. The first humans of God-consciousness are cast into a distance of strife and suffering; they know something is wrong; they have no idea how to fix it.
But within the great Triune Creator, there is a Word, and the Word is …
Well, the word is “Yes.”
The word is “I will come and cure …”
This was a Yes first born in spirit, and then uttered in flesh. I imagine it reverberating in Christ Jesus at the cellular level, like a thrill of connection — something on the order of that shiver we feel when we hear something that we know is absolutely true, and the Holy Spirit confirms it. The Incarnation and the moment: This is what I am here for. I have come to cure …
The centurion, of course, tells Christ, “You don’t have to come; I’m not worthy of your coming. Just say the word …”
Scripture tells us Jesus was “amazed” by that humble and wisdom-laden response. Sure, he must have been. Perhaps it sent yet another thrill of connection and recognition. God did not have to incarnate. But he wanted to. To come, and to cure.
Later on, Peter would pronounce “You are the Christ.” But here, still rather early in his ministry, someone recognizes the power of the Word sent forth, and asks for the simple “yes,” the simple assent, that moves the healing forward.
It is an insight of affirmation connecting Christ to his own essence, and yes, it’s astonishing to think of. So much so that the Incarnation turns to those he came to serve and save, and gives them notice: Up your game, folks, because the banquet is going to be crowded, and the company might surprise you.
Come, Lord Jesus, with your divine and potent “Yes” — the affirmation that assures us that we are loved, despite our stubborn, thick-headed, sometimes lazy, sometimes selfish, always demanding and short-sighted ways. Come in your bright essence; come in spirit; come in flesh, even though we are not worthy, because we know we are in need, and that your coming is the mend to our brokenness. Come, and keep us faithful. Come, Emmanu-el, and lead us to the banquet!
Aleteia will bring you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.