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Saturday – Twelfth week – OT1
Readings: Gen 18:1-15; Mt 8:5-17
1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 18:1 And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8 Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. 9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The LORD said, “I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, `Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 8:5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 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.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. 14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; 15 he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
I. THEME: God blesses those who believe in him and treat others with kindness.
One of dangers which is threatening humankind is the selfish lifestyle of many modern people. They don’t pay attention to others, no matter the other is God, parents, or relatives; but only to themselves and their individual needs. We don’t need to use higher doctrines of religion to know that these people shall not advance in life because they shall be put aside by God and others.
Today readings give us some exemplars about the proper treatment of God and others. In the first reading, the author of Genesis reported the patriarch Abraham’s hospitality. Though Abraham didn’t know the guest who passed through his tent, he sincerely invited the guest to take a rest, to have something to eat and to refresh. Recognizing Abraham’s hospitality, the guest announced a good new for Abraham and Sarah that they shall have a son to continue their descendants at the same time next year. In the Gospel, a Roman centurion humbly came to Jesus and begged him to heal his servant in his deathbed at home. Knowing Jesus is a Jew and believing he can heal by his word, the centurion asked Jesus not to come to his house but only to say a word, his servant shall be healed. Recognizing his faith and compassion, Jesus granted his request and his servant was healed at that time.
1/ Reading I: The patriarch Abraham’s hospitality
1.1/ The textual difficulty: Many Scriptural scholars used this passage to illustrate the Mystery of the Holy Trinity due to the following reason.
– In the first verse, the Lord is used at the first person, singular, “The Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.”
– In the second verse, Abraham saw three men, “He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth.”
– The third verse is back to the first person, singular when Abraham said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.”
– Verses four and five are back to second person, plural, as Abraham said, “Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,while I fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.”
1.2/ The great news for Abraham and Sarah: After received Abraham’s hospitality, the guest said to him, “I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” This is the news that both of them wish to have all their life; but it can’t be happened in human way because they advanced in age and Sarah no longer has the thing that happens to woman. So, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, `Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son.”
2/ Gospel: “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
2.1/ The faith of the Capernaum centurion
(1) The way he expresses his faith showed:
– He has compassion: The one whom he asked Jesus to heal isn’t his blood relative, but only a servant. According to Roman tradition, a servant is only considered as a thing: to trade and to use. We aren’t surprise when Jesus responded to his compassion because He is the merciful One.
– He was very tactful and humble: The Roman centurion learned that the Jewish tradition doesn’t permit a Jew to be in the same roof with a Gentile; therefore, to prevent bad reputation for Jesus, the centurion said to Jesus: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” His saying is used by the Church for preparation of the faithful’s souls before receiving the Eucharist.
– He was a strong believer: When he heard Jesus’ answer: “I myself shall come to heal him,” he believed in Jesus’ power without a doubt. Moreover, with an officer’s experience, he believed that Jesus could heal his servant without presence.
(2) Jesus’ reaction: Witnessing the expression of faith of the Gentile officer, Jesus was surprise and told the crowd who followed him: “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” The truth is hurt, but it must open the faithful’s eyes: those who have no religion sometimes express their faith more profound than the faithful!
– He warned the believers who lacked of 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.” The children of the house have a right to inherit their ancestral heritage; but if they are inhuman and ungrateful, their parents shall give the heritage to those who are grateful and know how to use it better. The right to inherit God’s heritage is only for those who believe and are faithful to God.
– The centurion’s faith healed his servant: Then 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.
2.2/ He carried all of our sickness: St. Matthews continued to report two more Jesus’ miracles and illustrate Isaiah’ words in the Fourth Song of God’s Suffering Servant: “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
(1) The exemplar of Peter’s mother-in-law: Jesus healed her because she was Peter’s mother-in-law, his beloved disciple. When healed by Jesus, she didn’t think that she needed more time to rest; but hurried up to serve Jesus and his disciples. This must be an exemplar for us to follow. When we receive something free-of-charge, we must also freely give. Those who only keep receiving, shall not advance further in life.
(2) Jesus healed all sick people: Matthews continued to report, “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.” This demonstrates that God isn’t the cause of suffering. The sufferings happen because people caused that or are the effect of weather. However, God can let sufferings happen for better purposes which we mentioned many times.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should treat others with kindness because God, who fathoms all things, shall send His angels to help and to protect us.
– The most important things in our life are to believe and to love God, expressed through doing what He teaches. Disobeying God and reasoning around to protect our wrong doing are the reasons to be kept out from God’s kingdom.
– The name Christian isn’t enough to be saved. We must sincerely do God’s will all the day of our life if we want to enter His kingdom.