“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, and Sarah shall have a son.”
A reading from the Book of Genesis (Genesis18:1-15)
In those days: The Lord appeared to Abraham by the Oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My lord, if I have found favour in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I fetch a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying; “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Luke1:46-47.48-49.50 and 53.54-55(R. 54b)
R/. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. R.
For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed:
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. R.
And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away. R.
R/. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever. R.
ALLELUIA Matthew 8:17
Alleluia. Christ took our infirmities and bore our diseases. Alleluia.
“Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 8:5-17)
At that time: As Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, begging him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralysed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man 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.” When Jesus heard him, he marvelled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and quash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
The humility of the centurion is noteworthy. His expression has been imprinted on our hearts through our Eucharistic worship when we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you…” Apart from humility, we see in the centurion the extraordinary love of one who goes to Jesus on behalf of a servant. We see his great respect; his awareness that a Jew who entered his home would be considered as defiled. We see a wise person making good use of his own experience in coming to understand others. Finally, we see the quality that amazes Jesus: his faith. We can discern a composite of virtues in the centurion. Let us reflect in gratitude upon our own stores of these qualities of heart, mind, reason and will, and how we might use them more creatively to build God’s Kingdom.