After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.
For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
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.
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus beingdeliberatelykind to “the enemy.” Remember that Roman soldiers were an occupying force which terrorized Jewish lands. Centurions were viewed with disdain by the Jews. So why would Jesus bother to help this man? It is important to keep in mind that the centurion did nothing to earn Jesus’ healing power. Rather, he simply believed; he had faith in the healing power of Jesus.
The authors of Matthew’s Gospel are attempting to convey a truth which they deeply believed; namely, that faith in Jesus allows us be healed. We simply must remain open to the process. It is less about what we do, and more about the depth of our openness to Christ’s presence in our lives.
Like the centurion, we might ask ourselves, “What aspects of my household or my relationships need healing?” Then sit quietly and listen for Jesus’ inevitable response.
—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
For when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice or hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Spirit.
—William Breault, SJ