12th Saturday of Ordinary Time
Genesis 8:1-15; Matthew 8: 5-17
The two readings for today’s liturgy present two very different reactions to an encounter with God. In the first, Sarah laughs, thinking the promised pregnancy must definitely be a joke. In the gospel, the centurion who had exercised power knew he had finally met The Man and it was no joke, This Man could make life happen. This hardened military officer believed that all Jesus had to do was say the word. Sarah’s skepticism speaks to many of us who can’t wrap our brains around mystery and the infinite power of God. At the same time, the birth of Isaac (He Will Laugh) speaks to the humor of God who assures His people that he was not joking.
Seated at the banquet table under the shadow of the Tree of Life, Abraham had to look beyond the appearance of His guests to encounter the Unseen God. Like our Father in the Faith, as we gather around the Table of the Lord under the shadow of the Cross, we have to look beyond the elements of bread and wine and encounter the unseen Lord, Jesus Christ.
Many of us who have grown old in sin and whose hearts have turned to stone can identify with Sarah’s cynicism. Like her, we cannot see how God can work through us and make all things new. Like her, we too laugh at the prospect of redemption because we think our condition hopeless. In a world that labels so many people “losers” we find it hard to believe what the evangelist John wrote: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). The Light of the World comes to each of us in our darkness and calls us by name. He takes to Himself our infirmities and frees us from our burdens of sin. God in His mercy offers us a chance to begin anew. God can, and does, make us fruitful again and can open our eyes to newness of life in Christ.
By God’s grace, we can develop the attitude of the centurion. Very mindful of his position in life, he finds that he in the presence of One Who possesses all power to make his world whole again. He was able to acknowledge that he was in the presence of One who could do for him what he could not do for himself. It is not a matter of being worthy or of deserving. The focus is on the One who has the power and the desire to make all things new. The design of Christ is to purchase for himself a people that had grown old in sin but whom He remade in His grace. This is no laughing matter! The Lord is asking us not to close ourselves up, but to give the best of ourselves to those who come to us. May the Holy Spirit bridge the gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ so that our lives may be completely at the service of the Kingdom.