AM NOT WORTHY—SPEAK AND I’LL BE HEALED
“Cry aloud to the Lord! Lift your hands to him.” The message is one of hope, that when punishment comes for sin we should not blame God and abandon hope, but turn to God himself.
At a mere word of Jesus the health of the centurion’s servant is restored in response to the marvelous faith of the pagan centurion. He is a model of faith to all of us. His faith makes him worthy to take his place at the table of the kingdom. Thus, we repeat that humble phrase, with devotion, every day at the Eucharist.
Lord our God,
you come and visit us
often when we are not aware of your coming.
Make us aware of your presence,
that we may eagerly receive you
and be enriched by your visit.
Make us highly appreciate your hospitality
when you set for us the table
of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Reading: Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19
The Lord has consumed without pity all the dwellings of Jacob; He has torn down in his anger the fortresses of daughter Judah; He has brought to the ground in dishonour her king and her princes. On the ground in silence sit the old men of daughter Zion; They strew dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth; The maidens of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground. Worn out from weeping are my eyes, within me all is in ferment; My gall is poured out on the ground because of the downfall of the daughter of my people, As child and infant faint away in the open spaces of the town. In vain they ask their mothers, “Where is the grain?” As they faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, And breathe their last in their mothers’ arms. To what can I liken or compare you, O daughter Jerusalem? What example can I show you for your comfort, virgin daughter Zion? For great as the sea is your downfall; who can heal you? Your prophets had for you false and specious visions; They did not lay bare your guilt, to avert your fate; They beheld for you in vision false and misleading portents. Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter Zion! Let your tears flow like a torrent day and night; Let there be no respite for you, no repose for your eyes. Rise up, shrill in the night, at the beginning of every watch; Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your little ones Who faint from hunger at the corner of every street.
Responsorial Psalm 74:1B-2, 3-5, 6-7, 20-21
R. (19b) Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Why, O God, have you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your flock which you built up of old,
the tribe you redeemed as your inheritance,
Mount Zion, where you took up your abode. R.
Turn your steps toward the utter ruins;
toward all the damage the enemy has done in the sanctuary.
Your foes roar triumphantly in your shrine;
they have set up their tokens of victory.
They are like men coming up with axes to a clump of trees. R.
With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
the place where your name abides they have razed and profaned. R.
Look to your covenant,
for the hiding places in the land and the plains are full of violence.
May the humble not retire in confusion;
may the afflicted and the poor praise your name. R.
Alleluia Matthew 8:17
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 8:5-17
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man 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 and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven, but the children of the Kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour his servant was healed. Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him. When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.
In our reading from Lamentations today, the sad lot of Jerusalem and the towns of Judah is graphically depicted. All forms of protection have been torn down. The old and the young are equally distraught. The glory of Zion exists no more. The people have listened to false prophets, who spoke only specious lies and failed to confront the people with their guilt. Daughter Zion is encouraged to repent and bewail her guilt with loud lamentations.
One is reminded of the Franciscan penitent, St. Margaret of Cortona, who, in her hilltop town of central Italy, would cry out for her sins throughout the night—often to the dismay of the villagers!
All of this makes the compassion and goodness of Jesus even more touching. In this early cycle of miracles in Matthew, Christ stands ever ready to extend himself and the goodness of his Father to all those who were sick or beset by demons. As tired as he was by day’s end, he was still pressed to respond to those who needed him, as the living expression of the goodness of God. In the spirit of Isaiah, truly, he took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.
– That all the peoples of the earth may hear where the Lord can be found, come to know his name and pray to him, we pray:
– That we may care for the sick and bring them healing and strength by our friendship and encouraging words, we pray:
That we may welcome foreigners and strangers in our Christian communities and invite them to form community with us, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God of all people,
we bring bread and wine before you
to celebrate our gratitude to you
as we are gathered around Jesus your Son.
For in him you have accepted us.
From his hospitable table
may men and women from all peoples and cultures
eat his bread of life
and drink his wine of joy,
that all may know your name
and praise your healing love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Prayer after Communion
Father in heaven,
we thank you that your Son
has spoken his healing word to us
even though we are not worthy.
May he find great faith in us.
We also thank you
that the promise of Jesus has been fulfilled:
Many have come from east and west
to eat from the same table with your people,
as they have joined us in the Eucharist.
Accept our thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the Lord speak to us also the words he spoke to the centurion when we sincerely pray to him: “Let it be done for you according to your faith,” and may God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!