Old as I am?

First Saturday and Feast of Saint Junipero Serra, Apostle of California

We’ve been reading about Abraham and his wife Sarah the past few days, and now we get to the point in their story where the Holy Trinity visits them and announces that, as promised, Abraham will have an heir by his wife. To the human mind, this is inconceivable—laughable—at their advanced age. But for God, all things are possible.

Fast forward to the Gospel reading: we have a centurion, not even Jewish, whose faith Jesus says is the greatest in all of Israel. This centurion knows not only that Jesus can heal his servant but also that Jesus need not touch the sick body. Quite a contrast with Sarah.

Questions of the Day

  • What would Jesus say about the size of your faith?
  •  Do you laugh at or fear those deep desires God has placed in your heart—the ones that seem so impossible? The ones, that if fulfilled, would have you sobbing on the ground with happiness and incredulity at the awesomeness, the mercy, the tenderness, and the care of the Almightyness of God?
  • Do you say “I am too old?” or “I am too weak?” or “I lack the strength?” or “this is impossible?”
  • Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Genesis 18:1–15

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth of Mamre,
as Abraham sat in the entrance of his tent,
while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby.
When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;
and bowing to the ground, he said:
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor,
please do not go on past your servant.
Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,
and then rest yourselves under the tree.
Now that you have come this close to your servant,
let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;
and afterward you may go on your way.”
The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah,
“Quick, three measures of fine flour!
Knead it and make rolls.”
He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer,
and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.
Then Abraham got some curds and milk,
as well as the steer that had been prepared,
and set these before them;
and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
He replied, “There in the tent.”
One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah will then have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years,
and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.
So Sarah laughed to herself and said,
“Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old,
am I still to have sexual pleasure?”
But the LORD said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say,
‘Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’
Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?
At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you,
and Sarah will have a son.”
Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But he replied, “Yes you did.”

Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:46–47, 48–49, 50 and 53, 54–55

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

“For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

“He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

“He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

Gospel: Matthew 8:5–17

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,
but the children of the Kingdom
will be driven out into the outer darkness,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion,
“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

Prayer for Restoration of Health

O Sacred Heart of Jesus
I come to ask You for the gift of restored health
that I may serve you more faithfully
and love You more sincerely than in the past.
I want to be well and strong
if it is Your Will
and redounds to Your glory.

If on the other hand it is Your Will
that my sickness continue,
I want to bear it with patience.
If in Your Divine wisdom
I am to be restored to health and strength,
I will strive to show my gratitude
by a constant and faithful service rendered to You.

— #1164, New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book

Prayer to Love God More Than Health

Almighty God, You gave me health, and I forgot You.
You take it away, and I return to You.
How gracious You are to take away the gifts
that I allowed to come between You and me.
Take away everything that hinders my union with You.
Everything is Yours—
dispense comforts, success, and health
in accord with my real good.
Take away all the things
that displace my possession of You
so that I may be wholly Yours for time and eternity.

— #1165, New Saint Joseph People’s Prayer Book