September 13, 2021 (readings)
- Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
- Cathy Stamper
When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person 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 at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, transform my heart so that I can acknowledge my unworthiness and humbly trust in your healing love and forgiveness.
Gracious in Victory: The Jewish elders interceded for the centurion, a leader in the military rulers of Israel. Why? Because he had shown love and compassion for the defeated people. He helped build their synagogue, allowing them dignity and peace to live out their faith while under military rule. His kindness and mercy endeared him to the Jewish elders. So often our past actions come back, either to haunt us or to help us. Deeds of kindness can lead to mercy and kindness returned to us when we need it most. Our uncharitable actions lead to the exact opposite. How do we treat those under our authority?
Acknowledging Christ as King: The centurion’s words showed that he recognized exactly who Jesus was: the king of heaven and earth. The centurion knew he was not worthy to entertain Jesus in his home (really, who among us is worthy?). He also knew that Jesus had supreme authority and did not need to come to his house to heal the servant. He trusted that Jesus was a benign king who would heal any subjects who ask him, no matter how unworthy they might be. Do we show the same trust in Jesus?
The Faithful’s Lack of Faith: Amazed at the humble and confident request of the centurion, Jesus remarked that he had not seen this faith in Israel—the chosen people of God! How easy it is to claim we have faith when we attend Mass and say our prayers. Yet we can tightly cling to the illusion that we are in control of our lives. How easy it can be to turn to a friend, an online advice board, or a secular book when we face troubles instead of humbly and confidently approaching the author of our entire lives, Jesus Christ, with our problems.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are the Lord of my life and the author of human history. Teach me to turn to you with humility and faith, trusting in your goodness and your providence. Help me to always remember that your love for me is constant despite any troubling circumstances.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I ask you, right at this moment, to guide me as I plan the remainder of my day. Throughout the day, I will turn to you for continued guidance in every matter, great or small.
For Further Reflection: Trusting God with St. Therese by Betty Rossini (Audible Books).
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