Lectio Divina: Matthew 8:5-11
1st Week of Advent
1) Opening prayer
Lord God, Father of all,
in Your Son Jesus Christ
you invite everyone and all to know and love You
and to live in Your unending peace.
Keep alive in us the zeal
to bring the light of Your truth
and the riches of Your life and love to all,
without any distinction
of race, language or culture.
May everyone on earth come to know You
as the merciful Father of all
through our brother and Savior,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 8:5-11
When He went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with Him. “Sir,” he said, “my servant is lying at home paralyzed and in great pain.” Jesus said to him, “I will come myself and cure him.”
The centurion replied, “Sir, I am not worthy to have You under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this He was astonished and said to those following Him, “In truth I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found faith as great as this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of Heaven."
Today’s Gospel is a mirror. It reminds us of the words we say during the Mass at the moment of communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter my house, only say the word and I will be healed”. Looking at this text more closely it suggests the following:
• The person who seeks Jesus is a pagan, a gentile, a soldier of the Roman army, which dominated and exploited the people. It is not merely religion or the desire for God, but rather the need and the suffering which impels him first to seek Jesus, followed by a faith that Jesus could heal. Jesus has no prejudices. He does not demand anything first, He accepts and listens to the request of the Roman centurion.
• Jesus’ answer surprises the centurion because it is beyond his expectation. The centurion did not expect that Jesus would go to his house. He feels unworthy: “I am not worthy”. This means that he considered Jesus a highly superior person.
• The centurion expresses his faith in Jesus saying “say the word and my servant will be cured”. He believes that the word of Jesus is capable of healing. From where does he get this great faith? It comes from his professional experience as a centurion! Because when a centurion gives an order, the soldier obeys. He has to obey. Thus, he believes it is enough for Jesus to say one word, and things will happen according to His word. He believes the word of Jesus has authoritative force.
• Jesus praises the faith of the centurion. Faith does not consist in just accepting and repeating doctrine, but in believing and acting on the word of Jesus.
4) Personal questions
• Placing myself in the place of Jesus: how do I accept and help people of other religions?
• Placing myself in the place of the centurion: what personal experience leads me to believe in Jesus?
5) Concluding Prayer
Come near to me with Your saving power,
let me share the happiness of Your chosen ones,
let me share the joy of Your people. (Ps 106)