Please press here to listen to the homily or download
Monday – Twenty-fourth week – OT1
Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all.
This was the testimony at the proper time.
For this I was appointed preacher and Apostle
(I am speaking the truth, I am not lying), teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,
lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
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.
I. THEME: The duty to pray for all leaders of the nations.
Christian duties in life are not only for themselves, their families, or other Christians; but also, for all people to have eternal life. The efficient ways are through prayers, preaching the Good News, and a good Christian life.
Today readings want to highlight this universal duty. In the first reading, Paul insists the duty to pray for leaders of the nation because their wisdom and good lives have direct effects on our peace and prosperity. Moreover, all authorities in the world come from Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and man. The prayers of the Christians can have an effect that our Lord would change bad leaders to ones who love people and bring peace and prosperity for people. In the Gospel, Jesus praises the centurion because of his love for his servant and people, and the special way he expressed his faith in asking Jesus to heal his beloved servant. Jesus also warns those who know and follow God; but their lives and expression of faith cannot be compared with this Gentile centurion.
1/ Reading I: All must pray, intercede, and thank for all people.
1.1/ Christian have a duty to pray for all people: Paul gives Christians a wisdom advises which we seldom do is to pray for all people, especially for the leaders of the nation. Usually, when people want to change government, they often think of using pressure or power to destroy their leaders; not many people think about of praying to God to help them to recognize what is good and right to do. Why does this happen? Because we think these leaders are impossible to change! We quickly forgot what happened to M. Gorbachev, the Secretary of the States of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who terminated the Communism in this country in 1991. He is also the cause for breaking down the Berlin Wall which separated the east and the west of Germany. To many Christians, these events are the result of praying the Holy Rosary which the Blessed Lady promised to them, in order to avoid the Nuclear Power war which could destroy all humankind.
Why must Christians pray for all the leaders? Paul gives a simple answer because their wise leading have a direct effect on our life: “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.” The deeper reason is: “It is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God does not want the sinner to be destroyed but wants him to repent and to live.
1.2/ God is the one who changes people: We must remember one very important thing is all authority in the world come from God. He can give and take away authority though people knowing or not. This can be proved through the prophets of the Old Testament: the authority changed from Assyria to Babylon empire, from Babylon to Persia, from Persia to Greek, from Greek to Roman empire. This change was foretold by the prophets to demonstrate God’s power and authority. He is not only the Lord of Israel, but also of all nations. In His providence, He can change the heart of Cyrus, the Persian king, a gentile who never knows Him before. Cyrus agreed to set Israelites free, so that they can return to their own country to rebuild the temple Jerusalem. Not only that, he also helped them with the mean to rebuild it.
In the New Testament, St. Paul insists: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.” A Christian must ascertain that no authority on earth can overcome Christ’s authority. He will be victorious over all worldly authority, and will put all of them under His feet, before He passes His kingdom to God. St. Paul gives an advise to all: “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling .”
2/ Gospel: Jesus praises the centurion because of his way of receiving Him.
2.1/ The good life of the centurion: He is very sensitive to the needs of people: his servant, the Jews, and Jesus. How many masters would like to know the sickness of their servant? How many foreign officials would like to know the spiritual need of their governed people? How many Gentiles care about the uncleanness of a Jew when he enters a gentile house?
Many are also sensitive about the need of people, but these are just temporal passion, they do not act to help people’s needs. This centurion did not only recognize the needs, he also finds a way to help people. He is looking for the best doctor to heal his beloved servant. He helped the Jews to build their synagogue because he loves them. He is finding a way for Jesus not having to contact or to enter his house by sending his Jewish friends and telling Jesus that He needs only “to give a command.”
2.2/ The centurion’s way of expressing his faith: He is not only humble of knowing himself, he also know how to pay respect to Jesus by his sincere confession of faith through his Jewish friends: “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 knows all these, He publicly praises the centurion before all people: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And He heals the servant because of the centurion’s faith.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Be educated and grew up in faith, we are supposed to know how to express our faith in God and to love people more than those who don’t believe in God yet; but in reality, those people sometimes expressed their respect to God and love people more than us.
– We have a duty to pray for all people, especially for those govern our country, so that they know how to govern people in justice and love. We must not imitate the worldly way to condemn, to criticize harshly, and to destroy those who do not share our viewpoints.