USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such 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.”
Good News Reflection:
When was the last time you had a mountaintop experience of faith? Faith in Jesus is what makes it possible to climb the Lord’s mountain.
Advent is meant to be a time of reaching new heights in spiritual growth. Consider today’s first reading. To climb the Lord’s mountain and reach the top requires actively seeking the greatest peace and the fullest joy for our lives today, which only Christ can provide.
The prophet Isaiah saw this being promised for the “days to come.” He had grown up praying Psalm 122 for the peace of Jerusalem. Israel had not experienced peace since the days of King Solomon’s reign — and it still hasn’t.
Does this mean that Isaiah’s prophecy has never come true? Has the Lord’s house never been established as the highest mountain?
Indeed it has: And it’s in you!
God the Divine Son became the child of a human to establish on earth the greatest peace, the fullest joy, and the clearest revelation of God’s instructions. Through faith in Jesus, we become the new Jerusalem, the Zion that Isaiah foresaw. Through faith in Jesus, we become the answer to the psalmist’s prayer.
Without faith, we live in the valley. When life’s hardships get bad enough or when we stay in sin long enough, we hit bottom. Faith in Christ raises us up to the new heights in our spiritual growth.
This kind of faith is exampled by the centurion in Capernaum in today’s Gospel passage. His faith “amazed” Jesus. This Roman enemy of the Jews had climbed the Lord’s mountain while the Jews were still squabbling in the valley. Amazing.
Have you ever amazed Jesus?
True faith means we trust that God is embracing us and holding us securely, even when conflicts and trials shake us up; this trust gives us peace.
True faith means we believe that God will turn every hardship into a benefit; this belief gives us joy.
True faith means we allow Jesus to be our Lord, our Teacher, our Guide; thus through his Word and his Holy Spirit we receive the best possible guidance.
Think of a conflict you’re currently enduring. What sword have you been using to win the battle instead of trusting God to show you a stress-reducing way to handle it? Faith can turn your sword into a plowshare, i.e., a tool that will plow the soil of your life to make room for new growth and new fruit.
Make peace with your enemy (an “enemy” is anyone whose will is opposed to yours). Even if you’re an innocent victim of the battle, do a good deed that will melt your enemy’s heart.
This might feel like a difficult mountain to climb, but it is the route of faith. It is the route that leads us away from the emotional angst of the conflict to the inner peace that only Christ can provide – the only peace that lasts.
For more about Faith read our WordByte: What is Faith?
Lord, I am not worthy of You! But it is Your love that heals me, saves me, and justifies me. I believe, Lord, but increase my faith in You! Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica