Men who came to Jesus: The Roman Soldier. Original artwork for illustration on p9 of Treasure issue no 249. Lent for scanning by The Gallery of Illustration.

FIRST READING
“Cry aloud to the Lord, O daughter of Zion!”
A reading from the Book of Lamentations (Lamentations 2:2.10-14.18-19)

The Lord has destroyed without mercy all the habitations of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonour the kingdom and its rulers. The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have cast dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the maidens of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground. My eyes are spent with weeping; my soul is in tumult; my heart is poured out in grief because of the destruction of the daughter of my people, because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city. They cry to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom. What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can restore you? Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles false and misleading. Cry aloud to the Lord! O daughter of Zion! Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite! Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.

The word of the Lord.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 74: 1-2.3-4.5-7.20-21 (R. 19b)
R/. Do not forget the life of your poor ones forever.

Why, O God, have you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger blaze at the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your flock which you claimed long ago,
the tribe you redeemed to be your own possession,
this mountain of Sion where you made your dwelling. R.

Turn your steps to these places that are utterly ruined!
The enemy has laid waste the whole of the holy place.
Your foes have made uproar in the midst of your assembly;
they have set up their emblems as tokens there. R.

R/. Do not forget the life of your poor ones forever.

They have wielded their axes on high,
as at the entrance to a grove of trees.
They have broken down all the carvings;
they have struck together with hatchet and pickaxe. O God,
they have set your holy place on fire;
they have razed and profaned the abode of your name. R.

Look to the covenant; each cave in the land is
a place where violence makes its home.
Do not let the oppressed be put to shame;
let the poor and the needy bless your name. R.

ALLELUIA Matthew 8:17
Alleluia. Christ took our infirmities and bore our diseases. Alleluia.

GOSPEL
“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.

Today’s Reflection

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed” is one of the most profound and personal expressions of faith that we come across in the Gospel. The Centurion believes in his heart that Jesus can heal his servant and thus makes an effort to see and inform Jesus about the condition of his servant in person. He could have even chosen to send one of his servants to request Jesus to come to his place but the depth of his faith forces him to leave his comfort zone and walk toward Jesus. The Centurion humbles himself and, setting aside all authority and power before Jesus, pleads for his servant. Real faith in God helps us to know who we really are and what God can do when we surrender ourselves to him.

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