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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Lam 2:2.10-14.18-19): The Lord has consumed without pity all the dwellings of Jacob; he has torn down in his anger the fortresses of daughter Judah; he has brought to the ground in dishonor her king and her princes. On the ground in silence sit the old men of daughter Zion; they strew dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth; the maidens of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground. Worn out from weeping are my eyes, within me all is in ferment; my gall is poured out on the ground because of the downfall of the daughter of my people, as child and infant faint away in the open spaces of the town. In vain they ask their mothers, «Where is the grain?». As they faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers' arms.

To what can I liken or compare you, o daughter Jerusalem? What example can I show you for your comfort, virgin daughter Zion? For great as the sea is your downfall; who can heal you? Your prophets had for you false and specious visions; they did not lay bare your guilt, to avert your fate; they beheld for you in vision false and misleading portents. Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter Zion! Let your tears flow like a torrent day and night; let there be no respite for you, no repose for your eyes. Rise up, shrill in the night, at the beginning of every watch; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord; lift up your hands to him for the lives of your little ones who faint from hunger at the corner of every street.
Responsorial Psalm: 73
R/. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Why, o God, have you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? Remember your flock which you built up of old, the tribe you redeemed as your inheritance, Mount Zion, where you took up your abode.

Turn your steps toward the utter ruins; toward all the damage the enemy has done in the sanctuary. Your foes roar triumphantly in your shrine; they have set up their tokens of victory. They are like men coming up with axes to a clump of trees.

With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary. They set your sanctuary on fire; the place where your name abides they have razed and profaned.

Look to your covenant, for the hiding places in the land and the plains are full of violence. May the humble not retire in confusion; may the afflicted and the poor praise your name.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 8:17): Alleluia. Christ took away our infirmities and bore our diseases. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 8:5-17): 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, but the children of the Kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." 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.

Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him. When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed”

Fr. Xavier JAUSET i Clivillé (Lleida, Spain)

Today, in the Gospel, we see the love, faith, trust, and humility of a centurion who feels a deep esteem for his servant. He is so worried about him that he is able to humble himself before Jesus and ask his help: "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully" (Mt 8,6). This concern for others, especially a servant, elicits a prompt response from Jesus: "I will come and cure him" (Mt 8,7). And it all leads to a series of acts of faith and trust. The centurion does not consider himself worthy, and alongside this sentiment, he demonstrates his faith to Jesus and all who were present, so much so that Jesus says, "Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Mt 8,10).

We can ask ourselves what moves Jesus to perform the miracle. How many times do we ask, and it seems that God does not attend to us! Even though we know that God always listens to us. So, what is happening? We believe we are asking correctly, but are we doing it like the centurion? His prayer is not selfish, but it is full of love, humility, and trust. Saint Peter Chrysologus says: “The law of love is not concerned with what will be, what ought to be, what can be. Love does not reflect; it is unreasonable and knows no moderation. Love refuses to be consoled when its goal proves impossible, despises all hindrances to the attainment of its object.” Is that how my prayer is?

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof…” (Mt 8,8). That is the centurion's response. Are those your feelings? Is your faith like this? In the words of Saint Maximus: “Only faith can explain this mystery. Faith is true knowledge, the principles of which are beyond rational demonstration; for faith makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason.” If so, you will also hear, “‘You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.’ And at that very hour his servant was healed” (Mt 8,13).

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Master of faith, hope, and loving care, teach us to pray as we should to obtain from the Lord all that we need.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “The faith of this centurion presages the faith of the nations, like a grain of mustard seed, a faith both humble and fervent.” (Saint Augustine)

  • “Jesus marveled at faith of the centurion. The centurion made a journey to meet the Lord, but he made it in faith. Therefore, he not only encountered the Lord, but he came to know the joy of being encountered by him.” (Francis)

  • “Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations (Cf. Mt 8:11). To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' word.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 543)