Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gospel for Sept 13, Memorial: St John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor

Monday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 7:1-10

The Centurion's Faith
[1] After He (Jesus) had ended all His sayings in the hearing of the people He entered Capernaum. [2] Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. [3] When he heard of Jesus, he sent to Him elders of the Jews, asking Him to come and heal his slave. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have You do this for him, [5] for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue." [6] And Jesus went with them. When He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have You come under my roof; [7] therefore I did not presume to come to You. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. [8] For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes; and to another, `Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it." [9] When Jesus heard this He marvelled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed Him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." [10] And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.

1-10. "They besought Him earnestly" (verse 4). Here is an example of the effectiveness of the prayer of petition, which induces Almighty God to work a miracle. In this connection St. Bernard explains what we should ask God for: "As I see it, the petitions of the heart consists in three things [...]. The first two have to do with the present, that is, with things for the body and for the soul; the third is the blessedness of eternal life. Do not be surprised that He says that we should ask God for things for the body: all things come from Him, physical as well as spiritual things [...]. However, we should pray more often and more fervently for things our souls need, that is, for God's grace and for virtues" ("Fifth Lenten Sermon", 8f). To obtain His grace--of whatever kind--God Himself expects us to ask Him assiduously, confidently, humbly and persistently.

What stands out here is the centurion's humility: he did not belong to the chosen people, he was a pagan; but he makes his request through friends, with deep humility. Humility is the route to faith, whether to receive faith for the first time or to revive it. Speaking of his own conversion experience, St. Augustine says that because he was not humble, he could not understand how Jesus, who was such a humble person, could be God, nor how God could teach anyone by lowering Himself to the point of taking on our human condition. This was precisely why the Word, eternal Truth, became man--to demolish our pride, to encourage our love, to subdue all things and thereby be able to raise us up (cf. "Confessions", VII, 18, 24).

6-7. Such is the faith and humility of the centurion that the Church, in its eucharistic liturgy, gives us his very words to express our own sentiments just before receiving Holy Communion; we too should strive to have this interior disposition when Jesus enters our roof, our soul.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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