12th Week, Saturday, Jun 27th

Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19 / Matthew 8:5-17
Jerusalem’s glory is gone: The nation, king, and Temple lay in ruins.

It is impossible for us to imagine what the fall of Jerusalem meant to devout Jews. The three great pillars of Judah’s existence, which linked them to God’s covenant, now lay in smoldering ruins: the king, the Temple, and the nation. The king was dethroned, the Temple was in ashes, and the city was a pile of rubble.
With Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed, the focus of Jewish history shifted to Babylon. There, many conscientious Jews began to think and reflect on their past.
As a result, they underwent a profound change. They experienced a reawakening of their religious sensitivity. They experienced a communal conversion.
Do we use adversity to draw us closer to God, as the exiles used their adversity? “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat down; there we wept when we remembered Zion.” Psalm 137:1
One of the most profound expressions of faith is the when we pray. The act of prayer shows to others who we believe in and what we believe in. And in a way we also tell ourselves who we believe in and what we believe in. But as much as prayer is a profound expression of faith, it is also an examination of faith. Because it is in prayer that our faith is put to the test. Often, we have heard people ask "Why is God not answering my prayer?" or "What's the point of praying if God does not listen to my prayer?" Hence, it can be said that prayer is a profound expression of faith, as well as a critical examination of faith.

In the gospel, we heard of the centurion coming up to Jesus and pleaded with Him for his servant. But it is also not an ordinary request. Even though Jesus offered to go and cure the servant, there is no guarantee or any probability that the servant will be cured. But the faith that the centurion had in Jesus is really quite amazing and astonishing. It even astonished Jesus that He had to say "I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this."

The centurion believed in the authority of the word of Jesus. He himself had soldiers under his authority and he was under the authority of others. So, he understood and he knew the power of the authoritative word. The centurion might not have the religious faith of those around him, but he believed in the authority of Jesus, and he believed that just a word from Jesus would be enough to cure his servant.

In times of illness and pain, prayer is a profound expression of faith, and at the same time it is also a critical examination of faith. Questions like "Will Jesus cure me of my illness?" or "Will Jesus give me strength to carry the cross and be able to bear the pain?"

The prophecy of Isaiah states that "He took away our sicknesses and carried our diseases for us". That prophecy was fulfilled and will always be fulfilled. The question is do we believe it.
Saturday June 27

Saturday of 12th Week of Ordinary Time



“Cry aloud to the Lord! Lift your hands to him.” The message is one of hope, that when punishment comes for sin we should not blame God and abandon hope, but turn to God.
At a mere word of Jesus the health of the centurion’s servant is restored in response to the marvelous faith of the pagan centurion. He is a model of faith to all of us. His faith makes him worthy to take his place at the table of the kingdom.

Penitential rite
-With the psalmist, we too cry, Lord, why does your anger smoulder against the sheep of your pasture, because we have strayed away from you, LHM
-Remember your flock which you built up of old; Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones, CHM
-Lord, we are not worthy, that you come to cleanse us, but say a word, we shall be healed, LHM

Opening Prayer: Lord our God, you come and visit us as you visited us Peter’s house, often even when we think you have forgotten us, even when we are not aware of your coming. Make us aware of your presence, even in the midst of our illness, failure and fallenness that we may eagerly receive you and be enriched by your visit. Make us highly appreciate your hospitality when you set for us the table of your Son, Jesus who lives and reigns in the unity of the ..... 

In our reading from Lamentations today, the sad lot of Jerusalem and the towns of Judah is graphically depicted. All forms of protection have been torn down. The old and the young are equally distraught. The glory of Zion exists no more. The people have listened to false prophets, who spoke only specious lies and failed to confront the people with their guilt. Daughter Zion is encouraged to repent and bewail her guilt with loud lamentations.
One is reminded of the Franciscan penitent, St. Margaret of Cortona, who, in her hilltop town of central Italy, would cry out for her sins throughout the night—often to the dismay of the villagers!
All of this makes the compassion and goodness of Jesus even more touching. In this early cycle of miracles in Matthew, Christ stands ever ready to extend himself and the goodness of his Father to all those who were sick or beset by demons. As tired as he was by day’s end, he was still pressed to respond to those who needed him, as the living expression of the goodness of God. In the spirit of Isaiah, he took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Points to Ponder
The destruction of Jerusalem and Judah’s guilt
Sorrow for sin
The forgiveness of God.

– That all the peoples of the earth may hear where the Lord can be found, come to know his name and pray to him, we pray:
– That we may care for the sick and bring them healing and strength by our friendship and encouraging words, we pray:
That we may welcome foreigners and strangers in our Christian communities and invite them to form community with us, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God of all people,
we bring bread and wine before you
to celebrate our gratitude to you
as we are gathered around Jesus your Son.
For in him you have accepted us.
From his hospitable table
may men and women from all peoples and cultures
eat his bread of life
and drink his wine of joy,
that all may know your name
and praise your healing love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Preparation for communion: “Almighty and ever-living God, we approach the sacrament of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth. Lord, in your great generosity, heal our illness, wash away our defilement, enlighten our blindness, enrich our poverty, and clothe our nakedness.”
Lord, I am unworthy, but I have faith so that I may be redeemed by Christ. 

Prayer after Communion
Father in heaven,
we thank you that your Son
has spoken his healing word to us
even though we are not worthy.
May he find great faith in us.
We also thank you
that the promise of Jesus has been fulfilled:
Many have come from east and west
to eat from the same table with your people,
as they have joined us in the Eucharist.
Accept our thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the Lord speak to us also the words he spoke to the centurion when we sincerely pray to him: “Let it be done for you according to your faith,” and may God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.