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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, an army captain approached him to ask his help, «Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly». Jesus said to him, «I will come and heal him». The captain answered, «I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one: ‘Go’, he goes, and if I say to another: ‘Come’, he comes, and to my servant: ‘Do this’, he does it». When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those who were following him, «I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into the darkness; there they will wail and grind their teeth». Then Jesus said to the captain, «Go home now. As you believed, so let it be». And at that moment his servant was healed.

Jesus went to Peter's house and found Peter's mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on him. Towards evening they brought to Jesus many possessed by evil spirits, and with a word he drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In doing this he fulfilled what was said by the prophet Isaiah: He bore our infirmities and took on himself our diseases.

«I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed»

Fr. Xavier JAUSET i Clivillé (Lleida, Spain)

Today, the Gospel speaks of the centurion's love, of his faith, confidence and humility. Of his deep concern towards his servant. He is so worried about him, that he humiliates before Jesus to ask his help: «Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly» (Mt 8:6). This concern for others and, even more, for a servant, prompts Jesus' response: «I will come and heal him» (Mt 8:7), which is in turn followed by a series of acts of faith and confidence. The centurion does not consider himself worthy and, along with that feeling, he expresses his own faith in such a way before Jesus and before all those gathered there, that Jesus has to say: «I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel» (Mt 8:10).

We may wonder what impels Jesus to make this miracle. We so very often ask God to no avail, though we know He is always listening! So, what happens, then? We may think we ask properly, but are we sure we do it like the centurion did? His prayer is not selfish, but full of love, humility and confidence. St. Peter Crysologus says: «The power of love does not consider possibilities (...). Love does not discern nor ponders; love does not understand reasons. Love is not resignation before impossibility, nor does it get intimidated before difficulties». Is it like that, my prayer?

«I am not worthy to have you under my roof...» (Mt 8:8). It is the centurion's answer. Do you feel this way? Is your faith like this? «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» (St. Maximus, confessor). If your faith is such, then you are bound to hear too: «‘Go home now. As you believed, so let it be (...)’ And at that moment his servant was healed» (Mt 8:13).

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Master of faith, hope and devoted love, show us how to pray so that we may obtain from the Lord that which is best for us.