Monday, December 03, 2007


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Originally uploaded by Oldmaison
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Prayer and Devotions

The Simple Centurion
by Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Offer up a sacrifice for someone who is ill or in need of conversion.

December 3, 2007
Saint Francis Xavier, memorial

Matthew 8:5-11
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 also am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave 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 east and west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for this time I can spend with you. These are some of the most important moments of my day. Help me to make the most of them, and to come away with something that I can share with others today.

Petition: Grant the grace of healing and/or conversion to a person in my life who most needs help.

1. Rare Roman A centurion was not the sort of person we would expect to approach Christ for a favor. A foreigner and member of an occupying force, he would have been alien to Judaism. Yet this officer likely had a lot of good will, and he was intrigued by talk of the preacher from Nazareth. The centurion’s good will is evident in his concern for his servant. The Roman looked out for the good of another person, and that might have been a factor in his openness to Christ. We too will often draw closer to Jesus by first being concerned about others, especially those who are suffering. A charitable heart provides fertile ground for the seed of the Gospel. Could there be someone in my life who needs my special help right now?

2. Humble Helper Our centurion displays another surprising quality: humility. "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof." So insightful were his words that, till this day, we essentially repeat them at every Mass, after the "This is the Lamb of God." Christ is so quick with his mercy that we can often take him for granted. The centurion doesn’t fall into that trap: An encounter with Christ is an awe-inspiring event that leaves the Roman feeling humbled. Do we show that same kind of deference when we approach Our Lord in prayer and in the Eucharist?

3. From All Parts Many from outside Israel will come to “the banquet in the kingdom of heaven,” Christ tells us. It’s his way of cautioning us that those who should be closest to him don’t necessarily show the greatest faith. Indeed, those outside the visible bounds of the Church might have the best seats in the Kingdom of heaven. It is not enough that we are baptized and have gone through the motions of receiving the sacraments. Our union with Christ demands constant effort, constant prayer, constant sacrifice. Do we live our spiritual lives with the intensity that Christ asks of us?

Conversation with Christ: Good Jesus, help me to see that coming to the aid of others can also bring me closer to you. May I never presume upon your grace. Help me to realize that to whom much is given, much will be expected. You have given me a lot with the gift of faith.

Resolution: I will offer up a sacrifice for someone who is ill or in need of conversion.

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