18Sep 18 September. Monday, Week 24

1st Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

Prayers for the civil authorities, for peaceful governance

Firstly 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: Luke 7:1-10

For his faith, the Roman centurion receives from Jesus the cure of his servant

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.


God wants all of mankind to be saved

Different sides of the Church’s mission appear in today’s texts. While Paul proclaims the need to bring the Gospel to the world, the Roman centurion shows how well prepared the world can be, to welcome Gospel values.

The mission statement in 1 Timothy is clear and engaging: God wants all to be saved and to know the truth. Jesus gave himself as ransom for all… and therefore 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 determines the ultimate fate of 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 today’s Gospel the outsider, a Gentile centurion, shows even stronger faith than the Jews. Put in other 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.

However unworthy we may feel

The words of the centurion “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” have rightly found their way into our Eucharistid liturgy. The pagan Roman centurion had the sensitivity not to want Jesus the Jew to be in breach of Jewish Law by entering the house of a pagan. He also trusted in the life-giving power of Jesus’ word. Jesus acknowledges this man’s remarkable faith and declares it to be greater than any level of faith he had found in Israel. This least likely person, a pagan soldier, an officer of the occupying force, shows faith in Jesus. The story suggests that faith can be found in the most unlikely of people. We can never second-guess who is a person of faith and who is not. This outsider’s act of faith is a virtue we can share, at every Eucharist. {MH}


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