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: This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel demonstrates the two prongs of Jesus’s ministry: his mission to the Israelites and his mission to the Gentiles. The Roman centurion acknowledges Jesus’s ability to heal simply by his words. In response, Jesus tells those around him that “many will come from the east and the west” to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is faith in Christ that matters, regardless of nationality, and Jesus is telling his followers that the kingdom of God is open to all.
On the other hand, Matthew’s Gospel was written for a Jewish audience, which is why he frequently cites a passage from the Hebrew scriptures that Jesus fulfills. So immediately after noting that it is not enough for someone to simply be a descendant of Abraham, Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law (a Jew), and Matthew reminds his Jewish audience that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the prophets have said and is truly the Messiah.
Are we able to have the faith of the centurion, or of Peter’s mother-in-law, and believe that Jesus has opened heaven for each of us?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
O Deus Ego Amo Te
O God, I love thee, I love thee,
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails, and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesus, so much in love with me,
Not for heaven’s sake;
Not to be out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and I will love thee:
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God.
—St. Francis Xavier, translated by Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ