Prayer for the sick

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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

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 paralysed 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;


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The passage for this first Monday of Advent presents a Roman centurion who approaches Jesus to ask him to heal his servant. This centurion who leaves his house to go to Jesus and asks for healing is the person of Advent. He is not resigned but instead waits for healing and hopes in someone who can help him. Let us also go to the Lord to receive his salvation. The centurion, like many of us, is an adult. He does not share the faith of Israel, and moreover, he is a member of the occupying military. There would be many reasons why he would not turn to a Jewish Teacher for help. However, his servant is sick. His concern for his servant, a beautiful attitude, leads him to reach out and approach Jesus. The centurion doesn’t quite know how to approach this young prophet, but he senses that if he entrusts a part of his heart into the good hands of Jesus, it may just be enough to be heard. Jesus reads the centurion’s heart, and with the generosity of someone who allows his heart to be touched, he goes beyond the request and says that he will go and heal him. At this point, who among us would not take advantage of such a great generosity? The centurion is actually even embarrassed: while standing before this prophet who comes from God, he understands immediately his own poverty and littleness. He answers back to Jesus, saying that he is not even worthy that Jesus comes to him. Yes, in contrast to us, the centurion feels ashamed before such a good, generous man. And he pronounces these same words that the Eucharistic Liturgy, with great spiritual wisdom, puts on out lips: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only said the word, and my servant shall be healed.” Indeed, he reveals his thoughts: “For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me, how much more are you, who come from God?” But Jesus, seeing this man’s sincerity, praises his faith. Although he is a pagan, he has great faith. Faith is not membership; rather, it is trust in Jesus. The centurion hears the good prophet Jesus saying to him, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” We can say that the Lord was bent by his faith. And indeed, the evangelist, as to underline the power of Jesus’ words, notes that his servant was healed “in that hour.” In truth, the centurion was also healed: in meeting Jesus, he discovered how unworthy he was, but also he found someone who deeply understood him. Through the feelings of this pagan centurion, we can walk towards Christmas in the certainty that the Lord will come to meet us.