First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
1st Reading: Lm 2:2, 10–14, 18–19
Without pity Yahweh has shattered in Jacob every dwelling. He has torn down in his anger the ramparts of Judah’s daughter. He has thrown her rulers and her king to the ground, dishonored.
The elders of the daughter of Zion sit in silence upon the ground, their heads sprinkled with dust, their bodies wrapped in sackcloth, while Jerusalem’s young women bow their heads to the ground.
With weeping my eyes are spent; my soul is in torment because of the downfall of the daughter of my people, because children and infants faint in the open spaces of the town.
To their mothers they say, “Where is the bread and wine?” as they faint like wounded men in the streets and public squares, as their lives ebb away in their mothers’ arms.
To what can I compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? Who can save or comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? Deep as the sea is your affliction, and who can possibly heal you?
Your prophets’ visions were worthless and false. Had they warned of your sins, your fate might have been averted. But what they gave you instead were false, misleading signs.
Cry out to the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion! Oh, let your tears flow day and night, like a river. Give yourself no relief; grant your eyes no respite.
Get up, cry out in the night, as the evening watches start; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint with hunger at the corner of every street.
Gospel: Matthew 8:5-17
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one: ‘Go,’ he goes, and if I say to another: ‘Come,’ he comes, and to my servant: ‘Do this,’ he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into the darkness; there they will wail and grind their teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the captain, “Go home now. As you believed, so let it be.” And at that moment his servant was healed.
Jesus went to Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on him. Towards evening they brought to Jesus many possessed by evil spirits, and with a word he drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In doing this he fulfilled what was said by the prophet Isaiah: He bore our infirmities and took on himself our diseases.
Why do soldiers have to march rather than just walk? Because when they march they look more like a mindless machine, and this is calculated to strike fear into everyone who sees them. We have to beware of people who worship uniformity and “efficiency” - in Church and state alike. It is only about appearances. There is infinitely more vitality and creativity in the drift of ordinary life. But wait a moment! The army officer in today’s reading says to Jesus, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof.” He knew that Jews incurred ritual uncleanness on entering the house of a pagan, and he wanted to save Jesus this inconvenience. It was out of consideration that he said, “Say but the word….” He wasn’t an army man through and through. There is hope for every one of us!
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