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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the First Week of Advent

1st Reading (Isa 2:1-5): This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: «Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths». For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Responsorial Psalm: 121
R/. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me, «We will go up to the house of the Lord». And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity. To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord.

According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love you prosper! May peace be within your walls, prosperity in your buildings.

Because of my relatives and friends I will say, «Peace be within you!». Because of the house of the Lord, our God, I will pray for your good.
Versicle before the Gospel (Cf. Ps 79:4): Alleluia. Come and save us, Lord our God; let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 8:5-11): When he 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 person 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.”

“I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”

Fr. Joaquim MESEGUER García (Rubí, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Capernaum is our city and our village, where there are sick people, some we know, others anonymous, often forgotten because of the hectic rhythm of life that we lead. Loaded with work, we rush about non-stop without thinking of those who, due to their illness or for whatever other circumstance, remain marginalised from the frenetic activity of our world. However, Jesus told us: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40). The great thinker Blaise Pascal follows this idea when he says “in his believers, Jesus finds himself in the agony of Gethsemane until the end of time”.

The centurion of Capernaum does not forget about his servant who is ill in bed, because he loves him. In spite of being more powerful and having more authority than his servant, the centurion is grateful to him because of all his years of help and appreciates him very much. Because of that, he approaches Jesus, and in the Saviour's presence, manages to make an extraordinary confession of faith, seen in the liturgy of the Eucharist: “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8). This confession is based on hope; it comes from the centurion's faith in the Lord and, at the same time, from his feeling of lack of personal worthiness, which makes him aware of his own neediness.

We can only approach Jesus with a humble attitude, like that of the centurion. That way we can live the hope of Advent: the hope of salvation and life, of reconciliation and peace. Only he, who acknowledges his poverty and realizes that the meaning of life is not to be found in himself, but in God, in turning his life over to Him, can really have hope. Let's approach Christ confidently, and, at the same time, make the centurion's prayer our own.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “What do you suppose Jesus praised in this man's faith? Humility. The centurion's humility was the door for the Lord to enter by.” (Saint Augustine)

  • “The Lord marvelled at the centurion. He marvelled at his faith. Therefore, he not only encountered the Lord, but he came to know the joy of being encountered by him. This is very important.” (Pope Francis)

  • “Before so great a sacrament [Eucharist], the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed’.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church Nº 1386)