Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 7, 1-10

When he had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum.

A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death.

Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant.

When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him saying, 'He deserves this of you,

because he is well disposed towards our people; he built us our synagogue himself.'

So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends to say to him, 'Sir, do not put yourself to any trouble because I am not worthy to have you under my roof;

and that is why I did not presume to come to you myself; let my boy be cured by your giving the word.

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 these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, 'I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith as great as this.'

And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus has finished his long discourse which we may call inaugural, begun with the beatitudes, and he enters Capernaum. In Capernaum there is a Roman centurion, a pagan, who though a representative of the oppressor, shows a special care for the Jews, so much so that he helped build the local synagogue. In any event he is very worried for his servant, who had fallen gravely ill. He well knows that as a pagan he cannot be so bold as to draw near to the teacher. So he asks some of the Jewish notables of the city to go to Jesus and ask him to heal his servant. They go to Jesus and intercede for the servant with words of great esteem for this centurion who has not spared himself to help the city. Three attitudes are apparent in this Roman centurion: the first two are love for his servant (he treats him like a son) and the boundless trust in the young prophet from Nazareth; the third is the unworthiness he feels before that young prophet, so much so that he does not consider himself worthy of going to him. How different from us! While Jesus is drawing near to his house, he sends some other friends to tell him to not be bothered any further. His faith makes him say those words that all Christians pronounce today during the Eucharistic liturgy: ""O Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; but only speak the word and let my servant be healed". This pagan centurion becomes the image of the true believer, of the one who recognizes his or her own unworthiness and who believes in the power of Jesus’ word; one Gospel word is enough to save and to be saved. Conversely, we are obsessed with multiplying our words because we think this is how we can move the heart of the Lord and change things. The Gospel passage shows us that one word is enough to heal. We can say in fact that Jesus is the "Word" of the Father: Jesus is the one who heals, the one who saves. The words which come from Jesus’ mouth have the power of God and of his love without limits. This is what the centurion had perceived in the young prophet. And so he entrusted him with the servant whom he loved. Jesus, when he heard the centurion’s response, admired the centurion and, turning to the crowd who followed him, said of him: "I tell you that not even in Israel have I found such great faith!" Let us draw near to this centurion and learn from him how to approach Jesus.