Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are of the Lord’s steadfast love for all of us, His people, the love that He has shown us all the time, as He faithfully kept to the Covenant that He has established with each and every one of us as He made it with our forefather, Abraham. God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and all of us, to be His beloved ones, blessed and protected by His love and care.
In our first reading today we heard about Abraham and how God came by to visit him at his tent, at the moment when He was about to fulfil the promise of a son to Abraham, and Abraham immediately recognised the Lord coming towards his place, welcoming Him and listening to whatever He was about to say to him. The Lord reaffirmed His promises to Abraham and told him that Sarah, his wife would bear a son as foretold, the son through whom God’s blessings would be given, to be the progenitor of many nations.
Sarah who was hidden in the tent wondered if such a thing was possible, considering that she had been barren for so many years and had by then been quite old in age, and contextually, that had also been around more than twenty years since Abraham began to journey from his ancestral lands to Canaan. Since the day of the promised son had not yet come, Sarah perhaps began to wonder if she would ever have any son at all. But the Lord knew what was in her heart and mind, and told her through Abraham, that everything is possible for God. In the end, everything happened as intended by the Lord.
Then in our Gospel passage today we heard about the moment when an army centurion approached the Lord asking Him to heal one of his servants, a most famous encounter which is in fact immortalised within every celebration of the Holy Mass. The army centurion or captain, who was most likely a Roman given the situation at the time, believed in the Lord and had faith in Him that He could save His servant from the brink of death, and sought Him to ask Him for the grace of healing.
And not only that he personally sought the Lord, showing great humility, as being a Roman, he was considered as superior and a man of his rank should not have directly sought the Lord. It was proven that he was a man of great power when later on he himself said that all those who were under him obeyed all of his commands. And yet, he humbled himself before the Lord, and asked Him for the command of healing, effectively putting him at the subordinate position, acknowledging the Lord Jesus as his true Lord and Master.
He also humbly refused to allow the Lord to come into his house, as contextually we need to understand that at that time, to enter the house of a Gentile or non-Jew, a pagan, would be deemed as improper and taboo, and would have made one unclean before the Law. In fact, many would have even stayed away from foreigners and Gentiles altogether. But the Lord reached out to the army centurion and even wanted to go to his place to heal the servant. The army centurion must have been aware of the cultural sensitivities and the issues that would have been created by the visit of the increasingly famous Jesus at that time.
Hence, he humbly asked the Lord to command him and acknowledging His power and authority, put his whole trust in His ability to cure and make his servant whole once again. The Lord was indeed impressed by this faith and made the centurion as an example of one who was often looked down and being prejudiced against by the Jewish people, and yet, showed more faith in the Lord than the supposed children and descendants of Abraham. Contrast the faith of the army centurion with the lack of faith that Sarah had, and we can see how first of all, we need to believe in the Lord and put our faith in Him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today let us all be reminded by what we have heard in our Scripture passages, through the words of the Lord and His reassuring promises, that we all need to trust in Him and put our faith in Him. Let us not be worried or be fearful anymore. Instead, let us all seek the Lord with renewed faith and commitment, knowing that He loves each and every one of us, without exception. Just as He has reached out even to the army centurion, He shall also reach out to all of us as well, as His love is universal. But are we humble enough like the centurion to realise just how sinful and wicked we have been?
Let us all remember whenever we are about to receive the Lord in the Eucharist, of the army centurion’s words, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed’. Let these words be truly meant by our lips and our tongue, and not merely left as words alone. Instead, let us all be sincere in seeking the Lord’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and draw ever closer to Him and His grace. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.