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Monday – First Week – Advent
Readings: Isa 2:1-5; Mt 8:5-11.
Reading 1 (Isa 2:1-5):
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD!
Gospel (Mt 8:5-11):
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.”
I. THEME: Everybody are looking for you.
Do people need God in their life? Some say “No!” because they believe they can manage their own life. But there are many spiritual needs which people can’t provide for themselves; for example, the answers for these questions: Where do people come from? What do they live this life for? Where do they go after their death?
Today readings show the need to look for God. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah foresaw the day when all people on the earth will come to Jerusalem to climb up Mt. Sion, God’s holy mountain, so that God will instruct them His laws and ways. This day was happened when Christ came and revealed God’s will for His people. In the Gospel, the Roman centurion was looking for Jesus so that he could ask him to heal his servant.
1/ Reading I: Let us go to God’s mountain, to God’s dwelling place of Jacob.
1.1/ The important positions of Mt. Sion and Jerusalem Temple: The prophet Isaiah, though he was living in a dark period of Jewish history, was permitted by God to foresee what will happen after the exile. God will reestablish Judah and Jerusalem. He will send the Messiah to deliver people; and all nations, not just the Israel, will look for him. He predicted these as follows: “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.”
1.2/ Human needs: There are many things people need to know.
(1) Need to know God’s way: God creates people for a purpose. How can people find out this purpose? If God doesn’t reveal, people can’t know. People need to know not only the purpose but also the way to reach this goal. Therefore, people must come to God, so that, “He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”
(2) Need to know God’s laws: The Jews are very proud of their law because there is no god in this world who appeared to his people and gave them the law, as God gave them the Ten Commandments through Moses. They had a reason to be proud of God who creates people, and only He knows what is good and what is bad for people. Therefore, people need to come to God to learn His law: “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
(3) God will judge between nations and peace will reign on the earth: “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” The point Isaiah wanted to imply here probably the Last Day, when Christ will have dominion over the world and govern all for ever.
2/ Gospel: From east to west, many will come to participate the heavenly banquet.
Today passage described the encounter between Jesus and the centurion. He is a Gentile and the Roman officer who governed the Jews. He overcame the religious and political obstacles in coming to Jesus and asking him to heal his servant. Jesus recognized his courage and he said to him: “I will come and heal him.”
2.1/ The need to be healed: All diseases, in mind as well as body, belong to human fate. Many people come to Jesus to be healed. In the Gospels, so many miracles were reported by the evangelists. There were miracles that happened because of the patients themselves requested; some happened because of their relatives or friends asked for, as in today passage; some happened because Jesus had compassion for the patients even though they didn’t ask for. Jesus healed all who asked for even in the Sabbath and though he met confrontation from Pharisees and scribes. He healed people, not only from bodily diseases but also from spiritual diseases; for examples, he called Matthew, the tax collector, to be his disciple; he wanted to stay with Jachaeus, also a tax collector; he made friends with sinners and prostitutes to bring them back to God.
2.2/ The need to express one’s faith in God: In most of miracles, people expressed their faith by coming and asking to be healed. When Jesus saw their faith, he used to say to them: “Go in peace. Your faith has healed you.”
(1) The centurion’s faith in Jesus: When Jesus expressed his intention that he will come and heal the servant, the Roman centurion replied: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man 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 he does it.” Through his answer, the centurion showed Jesus that he knew God and himself. He wanted to prevent for Jesus to become unclean because he is in the same roof with a Gentile; this is why he said to Jesus, “but only say the word.” He also believed Jesus could heal without his physical presence.
Witnessed all these, Jesus praised his faith: “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” The expression of faith of a Gentile’s officer surprised Jesus. It should also cause us to examine our faith: it is not guaranteed that we, people who believed in God so many years, will express our faith as this Roman centurion. His humble answer has been used by the Church in the Mass to prepare the faithful before they receive the communion.
(2) Gentiles will believe in God and inherit the kingdom of heaven: Then Jesus said to his audience: “I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” The Jewish tradition, for a long time, believed that salvation is only for the Jews; but many prophets, such as Isaiah in today reading, foresaw that the Gentiles will also believe in God and inherit the salvation.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– All have the need to look for God to be taught, healed, and especially, revealed the ultimate goal of their life.
– To look for God, not only for a moment or a period of time, but also a progress for all the days of our life.
– God is the Father of all people. We should be happy when all people of nations believe and love Him.