16 September, Monday of the Twenty Fourth Week
(Or: Memorial of Ss Cornelius, pope, and Cyprian, bishop, martyrs)
1 Tim 2:1ff. Prayers for the civil authorities that life may be peaceful, since God desires the good of all.
Lk 7:1ff. The Roman centurion has greater faith than all Israel and receives from Jesus the cure of his servant.
First Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all – this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.
Gospel: Gospel: Luke 7:1-10
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”
Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also 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 the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
So that all can be saved
Different sides of the Church’s mission are seen in today’s texts. While 1 Timothy proclaims the Gospel’s outreach to the world, the Roman centurion in Luke 7 shows how well prepared the world can be, to return to Gospel values. The mission statements in 1 Timothy are clear and engaging: God wants all to be saved and to know the truth; Jesus gave himself as ransom for all; and Paul has a mission to all nations.
Since God wants all to be saved, it seems that the bulk of humanity are being saved without explicitly accepting the Gospel. Much less than fifty percent of the world’s population is Christian. Therefore it is not explicit faith that makes the difference between heaven and hell for an individual but the quality of a live as lived. The difference between faith and unbelief is between having the trusting strength of knowing Jesus and the unclarity of living without his guidance and inspiration. Paul prays both that all may be saved and that they “come to know the truth.” The truth of Jesus sets free and invigorates, brings greater peace and deepens our respect for life. As Paul says, since God is one, all God’s children form one human family, with a mighty mediator between God and ourselvesthe man Christ Jesus.
In the Gospel the outsider, a Gentile centurion, shows even stronger faith than the Jews. Transferred into contemporary terms, the faith of a Buddhist or a Muslim can take a Christian by surprise. The Roman centurion shows great concern, simplicity and graciousness towards the distress of his servant. He sends to Jesus for help, risking refusal as a member of the hated Roman army. He also shows courtesy towards Jesus, “Sir, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter my house.” Open and honest, he does not beat around the bush and is not afraid to publicly admit his confidence in Jesus, and courteously sends a delegation of Jewish elders to intercede for him and his slave. These natural virtues served to create a distinguished public servant and portray him as a consummate diplomat. Jesus praises the faith of this foreigner.