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.
I have to admit, I don’t love the idea of the centurion being held up as an example of great faith in God in Luke’s Gospel today. The centurion represents empire and oppression, things that Jesus fights hard against. Jesus himself is surprised to find such humility and faith from such an unlikely source.
However, Jesus’s response to the centurion’s humble plea is not an endorsement of Roman power, but rather a demonstration of the vastness of God’s power. I have to imagine that the centurion was profoundly changed by this encounter with Jesus, even though there is no evidence that they actually met one-on-one.
How can we allow our encounter with Jesus to change and humble us? At Mass we say the words “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Do we truly believe that?
—Christine Dragonette is the Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.
God our Father, in Saints Cornelius and Cyprian you have given your people an inspiring example of dedication to the pastoral ministry and constant witness to Christ in their suffering. May their prayers and faith give us courage to work for the unity of your Church. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Collect Prayer from today’s Mass