Prayer and Meditation for Monday, November 28, 2016 — Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

Monday of the First Week in Advent
Lectionary: 175

Reading 1IS 4:2-6

On that day,
The branch of the LORD will be luster and glory,
and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor
for the survivors of Israel.
He who remains in Zion
and he who is left in Jerusalem
Will be called holy:
every one marked down for life in Jerusalem.
When the LORD washes away
the filth of the daughters of Zion,
And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst
with a blast of searing judgment,
Then will the LORD create,
over the whole site of Mount Zion
and over her place of assembly,
A smoking cloud by day
and a light of flaming fire by night.
For over all, the LORD’s glory will be shelter and protection:
shade from the parching heat of day,
refuge and cover from storm and rain.

Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4B, 4CD-5, 6-7, 8-9

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.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house 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.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
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.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Alleluia SEE PS 80:4

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come and save us, LORD our God;
let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 8:5-11

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.”

Centurion Beseeching Jesus, William Brassey Hole


Commentary on Matthew 8:5-17 From Living Space

Today we read the second of the 10 miracles of Jesus described by Matthew after the Sermon on the Mount. It is a story also found in Luke and John but, strangely enough, not in Mark.

The significant element in this story is the fact that the person asking for help is a centurion, a soldier and presumably not a Jew. Yet he has this great faith in Jesus. It is a sign of the future role of Gentiles in the originally all-Jewish Christian community.

He asks Jesus to cure a servant who has become paralysed. Jesus immediately responds that he will go and cure him. “No, no,” replies the centurion. “I am not worthy that you should come to my house. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Words very familiar to us from their paraphrase used in the prayers before sharing in Communion.) And he goes on to say that as an army officer, he just has to give commands and they are carried out on the spot. When it comes to healing, he knows that Jesus can do the same.

Jesus is astonished at the faith of this pagan: “Nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this!” And he foretells that this is a sign of what is going to happen in the future when Gentiles from all over the world will enter the Kingdom while many of Jesus’ own people will be left outside. What is more they will become God’s people sharing glory with the Jewish ancestors: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a sad theme running through the whole of this gospel: the rejection of Jesus by so many of his own people and their self-chosen exclusion from the Kingdom.

The faith that Jesus expects is not an acceptance of religious doctrines. It is rather an act of total trust and surrender by which people commit themselves to the power of God – in this case, the power of God in Jesus. “Christ asks for this faith especially when he works his miracles, which are not so much acts of mercy as signs attesting his mission and witnessing to the kingdom; hence he cannot work miracles unless he finds the faith without which the miracles lose their true significance.” (Jerusalem Bible, loc. cit. Text references omitted.)

For this reason this faith was not easy to give, especially for many of Jesus’ hearers who could not see the presence of God in Jesus and hence could not commit themselves to him. Even the disciples were slow to believe. We see this especially in Mark’s gospel. But, once present, such a faith can bring about the transformation of a person’s life, as many converts to Christianity can attest.

Turning to the centurion Jesus says, “Go back home; you have believed, so let this be done for you.” The servant was cured at that very moment.

What is clear from this story and from many other healings by Jesus is the crucial element of faith in the one approaching Jesus. It is the only condition necessary – racial origins are irrelevant. Luke will tell us that Jesus was restricted in the help he could give to the people in his home town of Nazareth because they simply did not have faith in him.

Let us pray that we may never lose that gift of faith which has, in the mysterious ways of divine Providence, been given to us. And let us remember that, without that faith, God will be hampered in reaching out his healing love to us.





On Suffering — From Suffering With Joy

We hear the tale of the Roman centurion who is used to ordering others around and getting instant obedience.  But he, too, approaches Jesus with a humble heart full of compassion for his suffering servant and complete faith in Jesus’ power to heal, even at a distance.  From this encounter with the Lord we have the powerfully compelling words, “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.”

From this passage in Matthew we draw the beautiful prayer we say together before receiving Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

In the traditional Latin Mass we say this prayer three times.  Why?  Because in Hebrew expression there is no comparative or superlative as we have in English.  Thus, the triple repetition of something signifies the greatest emphasis possible in what is being said.  Since much of the Traditional Mass originates from the time of the apostles, we find this custom retained in the Latin expression of the Hebrew culture.  Thus, we, in praying this prayer three times at Mass, emphasize our great lowliness in the face of Jesus, our helplessness to cure ourselves, and our great faith in Jesus.  A second reason for the triple repetition is acknowledgement of the triune God.  Jesus is the second Person who cannot be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I write a lot from the viewpoint of suffering in this world.  Often we suffer because our souls need healing.  We need God’s help to root out anger, resentment, envy, covetousness, and many other evils from our hearts/souls.  Often, physical suffering can be eliminated or greatly ameliorated by the healing of the soul. This prayer of the centurion prepares us to receive the healing power of Christ in Holy Communion when we say it at Mass.

When we are not at Mass but on a bed of pain, we can repeat this prayer as an offering to God as we unite ourselves to the Passion of Christ and seek His aid in conforming ourselves to the will of God.



Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
28 NOVEMBER 2016, Monday, 1st Week of Advent

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 2:1-5; MT 8:5-11   ]

What a positive way to begin a new liturgical year with the vision of Isaiah in today’s first reading.   He prophesied a day will come when all of us, “peoples without number” will come to the Lord’s mountain, the place where God dwells where we will be instructed by the Lord so that we will all come under His Lordship and “walk in his paths.”  On that day, there will be no more wars and bloodshed but peace and unity.  This grandiose vision of Isaiah remains ours.

How is the vision being already realized?  Whenever we find ourselves growing in our spiritual life, we know that we are scaling to the top of the Lord’s mountain to meet Him face to face.  Whenever we find peace and joy as it is for those who have been to the mountaintop, we know that God is there in an awesome way.  Whenever we are able to reconcile conflicts and persuade warring parties to “hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles.” Whenever we are able to reconcile relationships in our family and in our workplace, we know that God has made it possible.  Whenever we see how the United Nations is working to ensure that “nation will not lift sword against nation”, we know that God is at work in a divided world.  In other words, when everyone comes under His Lordship where truth and love, justice and compassion, forgiveness and tolerance reign, we know we are nearer to the universal peace envisaged by the prophet Isaiah.

But this is not possible unless the Lord comes into our lives.  The season of Advent precisely celebrates His coming and invites us to receive Him.  When we speak of His coming, we are not limiting ourselves to His first coming at Bethlehem, nor even His Second Coming at the end of time, but also His present coming, here and now in our daily life.  Indeed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” To the extent that we welcome the Lord Jesus into our lives, to that extent the vision of Isaiah is fulfilled in us, even now, if not perfectly, it surely can be felt.  He has taken the initiative at Christmas and He is still extending the same invitation.  In fact, if He had not first found us, we would not have been able to find Him.  However, He will not force Himself into our lives.  So we must first desire the Lord.  The Lord cannot come into our lives unless we actively seek Him, just like the gentiles in today’s scripture readings.

How, then, do we open our hearts to receive the Lord?  Firstly, we must realize our inadequacy. Although the Centurion was an officer and a respectable person, yet, he was conscious of his limitations.  He knew that he was not all that powerful and therefore he turned to Jesus for help to heal his slave.  The truth is that no one will seek the Lord earnestly unless he knows that he is incomplete and insufficient.  What is equally true is that many of us think so highly of our intelligence and talents, our power and influence, our office and position that we think we can do everything without God’s grace.  We think we can manage on our own.  If that is the case, we will never be earnest in seeking Him.

Secondly, we must come to realize our sinfulness.  When Jesus wanted to go to his house, the Centurion was fully aware that gentiles are seen as sinners and His coming would make Jesus unclean.  So in humility, he said, “Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured.” He knew that he was not worthy of Jesus, the holiness of God to come into his dwelling place.  If we want to prepare well for Christmas, the most important step to take is to purify our hearts and minds through the sacrament of reconciliation.  We must start the year on a clean slate instead of burdening ourselves with the sins of our past life that continue to haunt and condemn us.

Thirdly, we must be serious in wanting to live the life of truth and charity.  That is what the prophet asks of us, “O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  There is no question of experiencing the peace and joy of the Lord in our lives so long as we walk in darkness.  To think that we can continue in our sins and find peace and freedom in the Lord is an illusion.  We have to choose God or sin.  Psalm 24 asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the “Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” (Ps 24:3-4) So today, we need to make up our mind, as the Elijah tells us, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kg 18:21)

Fourthly, we must begin to strengthen our spiritual life by opening ourselves to the Word of God.   We need to imbue ourselves with the Word of God.  Some think that they can deepen their prayer life without grounding themselves in the Word of God and coming to know God through the humanity of Jesus.   St. Teresa of Avila warns us that “the very care taken not to think about anything will arouse the mind to think a great deal” and therefore any attempt to separate the mystery of Christ from Christian meditation is always a form of “betrayal” (cf.  Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian meditation, no 10).  Pope St. John Paul II in his apostolic letter, “Novo Millennio Ineunte” says that the only way to see the Lord is to contemplate on the face of the Lord.  Furthermore, not only should we be more than ever firmly set on the face of the Lord” but that this “contemplation of Christ’s face cannot fail to be inspired by all that we are told about him in Sacred … so that Saint Jerome can vigorously affirm: ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.’  Remaining firmly anchored in Scripture, we open ourselves to the action of the Spirit (cf. Jn 15:26).”

So Christian Faith is one that turns to Jesus as our Lord, Saviour, Teacher and Guide as He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  It is through a deepening faith in Jesus that we come to realize who we are and what we are called to be.

Indeed, because the Centurion had encountered Jesus, he was able to submit in faith.  He told the Lord that He only needed to give the word and His servant would be cured.  He knew that the Word of Jesus was effective and efficacious.  Faith ultimately comes about when we know Jesus through His Word and teaching.  With faith, we can therefore trust in Him regardless of whatever situation we are in.  With faith inspired by the Word of God, we will find direction and inspiration from the Lord guiding us and helping us to walk in the light of God, which is the path of freedom in truth and love.  This was the faith of the Centurion, a faith that amazed Jesus even.  He had such confidence in Jesus that he did not even feel the necessity for Jesus to come personally to heal his slave.

If only we cultivate this faith of the Centurion, we would have been great evangelizers transforming the whole world, bringing them to Christ the Light of the world.  The reality is that many of us do not even know Christ because we do not read His Word. We can be truly the beacon of evangelization that Isaiah envisaged if we are personally connected with Jesus, imbued with His Word and walk in the path of truth and charity.

It behooves us at the beginning of the season of Advent to turn our eyes once again on the Lord.  Let us renew our personal relationship with the Lord, who “from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends (cf. Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15), and moves among them (cf. Bar 3:38), in order to invite and receive them into his own company.” (Dei Verbum n. 2)  Together with the Centurion, let us intercede for each other, for those Catholics who do not yet have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus and for those who do not yet know Him.  If we intercede for each other and the world the way the Centurion interceded for his servant, then we can be sure that our prayers would be heard.  With the same compassion and love for one another and for the world, let us keep the season of Advent, which is a season of waiting, a season of hope, in prayerful watching.  Let us not allow the festivities of this season to distract us from our primary focus, that is, on the Lord and not on the external trappings of Christmas, namely, the parties and gifts and the merrymaking.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Art: The Roman Centurion by Nathan Greene
Lectio Divina From The Carmelites
Today’s Gospel is a mirror. It reminds us of the words we say during the Mass at the moment of communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my house, say but the word and I will be healed”.  Look at this text in the mirror, it suggests the following:
The person who seeks Jesus is a pagan, a gentile, a soldier of the Roman army, which dominated and exploited the people. It is not religion nor the desire for God, but rather the need and the suffering which impels him to seek Jesus. Jesus has no prejudices. He does not demand anything first, he accepts and listens to the request of the Roman official.
Jesus’ answer surprises the centurion, because it is beyond his expectation. The centurion did not expect that Jesus would go to his house.
He feels unworthy: “I am not worthy”. This means that he considered Jesus a highly superior person.
The centurion expresses his faith in Jesus saying: “Say only one word and my servant will be cured”. He believes that the word of Jesus is capable of healing. From where does he get this great faith? From his profession experience as a centurion! Because when a centurion gives an order, the soldier obeys. He has to obey! Thus he imagines Jesus: it is enough for Jesus to say one word, and things will happen according to his word. He believes the word of Jesus encloses a creative force.
Jesus was surprised, astonished, and praises the faith of the centurion. Faith does not consist in accepting, repeating and decorating a doctrine, but in believing and trusting in the word of Jesus.
Personal questions
Placing myself in the place of Jesus: how do I accept and listen to the persons of other religions?
Placing myself in the place of the centurion: which is the personal experience that leads me to believe in Jesus?
Concluding Prayer
Come near to me with your saving power, let me share the happiness of your chosen ones, let me share the joy of your people. (Ps 106)

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Monday, November 28, 2016 — Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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