The Holy Gospel according to Luke (7:1-10)
When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person 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 at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
The Gospel of the Lord.
The only other time the word “amazed” or “marveled” is used concerning Jesus is when he tried teaching in the synagogue of his hometown (Mark 6:1) when “he marveled because of their unbelief” (v6). You would think, based on their Jewish background, they would be the ones who had faith. Instead, it was a Gentile, a Roman centurion.
The centurion told Jesus, “I too 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 servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (v8).
By this, he showed his understanding of who Jesus was. He understood that Jesus’ power to heal was given him by God, just as the centurion’s authority came from the emperor. And just as he gave commands to his soldiers, he understood that Jesus could command the illness to leave his servant.
The faith of the centurion was in the power of Jesus’ word, a word founded on the authority given him by God. He asked Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but say the word, and let my servant [soul willl] be healed” and we recite these very words in the celebration of the Holy Mass, before we receive our Lord in the Eucharist (body, blood, soul and Divinity). How powerfrul and such humility.
The centurion was a man who himself had enormous power at his disposal. As a representative of Rome and in charge of Roman soldiers, his power and authority were immense. But he recognized that power was nothing in comparison to the Word of the living God invested in the rabbi from Nazareth. Perhaps he understood the principle in the same psalm that, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing” (v10). Rome, for all its power, could not heal his servant.
For all Rome’s prestige, the centurion put his faith in the God of the otherwise insignificant Jewish nation.
Despite being in charge of a great army, the centurion put his hope and trust in the saving power of the God of Israel. When the centurion’s servant “was sick and at the point of death.”
What an example for us. Faith is not a passive thing whereby we simply affirm our belief in a set of doctrines. What the centurion demonstrated is the power of faith working through a deep understanding of the power of God and His Word, invested in His Son. It was a faith coupled with a character of humility, love, and embracing of the Hope of Israel.
Action of the Day
The Lord is looking for servants like this centurion: *Who have an exalted view of Christ—He is the sovereign Lord of authority, and thus they trust Him for the impossible.
The Lord is looking for servants, *Who have a lowly view of themselves—they are unworthy and insufficient, but they know Christ as gracious and all-sufficient.
The Lord is looking for servants, *Who have a caring view of others—they are helpless, and thus need compassion. Christ’s authority and grace extend to those whom society may despise.
Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China, used to say, “All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.” May that same powerful God do great things through us as we trust Him in our weakness!