Under the Roof of Heaven

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Soon after the latest translation of the Mass was implemented in 2011, a parishioner approached me as he wiped tears away. He had read the new before-communion prayer text about our unworthiness to have Jesus enter under our roof. Eyes glistening, he looked at me and said, “I can’t receive Jesus because I live outside, I don’t have a roof.”  

I recall his face and hear his voice when I read the centurion’s encounter with Jesus in today’s Gospel. The image of the roof is far broader than wooden beams and shingles. The human heart becomes the protective place where Jesus dwells.  

Advent reveals the places of injustice or injury, of pain or persecution, as we wake from our slumber and prepare for Christ’s coming. Advent releases despair and opens our hearts to welcome Jesus Christ—today, tomorrow, every day of our lives. The centurion understood that Jesus could heal his servant, and we must model such conviction. He realized, even in his unworthiness, that he must surrender to Jesus’ mercy and compassion. Jesus waits for our surrender. 

We celebrate Advent under the roof of heaven. Advent hope transforms the metal of weapons into tools of good works, changing the course of injustice. Advent carves courage within ailing souls and lonely hearts. Advent wipes away tears. Advent prepares us to live the light of heaven amid darkened human nature here on earth.  

Jesus longs to heal us no matter where we rest at night, no matter the obstacles of our unruly perceptions, no matter the shelter we call home. 

© Liturgical Press.

Fr. Ronald Patrick Raab

Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC, is presently on sabbatical. Learn more at: ronaldraab.com.

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