This Gospel is stunning. And how beautiful that in the Roman Rite, we repeat his words when the Eucharist is elevated and presented to us after the Consecration? “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my [soul] shall be healed.” Let’s unpack this bit by bit because it is such a rich tale!
A Roman soldier approached Christ. That in it of itself is pretty amazing. He trusted that this carpenter-turned-teacher had something to offer him, a high up military leader. Also, he was asking for a miracle for his servant. Clearly this centurion was a caring and compassionate man. He’s using his one miracle request on someone else. Someone considered far beneath him in social status and value. But he seems to hold an inherent value for human life and the dignity of the person despite or unrelated to their position.
Christ says yes. He will come and heal this servant. He will travel whatever the distance is to this man’s home, and heal him. No questions asked.
Shockingly, the centurion doesn’t want Him to come to his home. Either he understands Christ is in high demand and terribly busy with loaves, fishes, tax collectors in trees, small children, etc, or he trusts Christ can simply will the healing and it will happen. Just like that. Implicit trust that no laying of hands or muttering of complex words is necessary. He believes completely in Christ’s deity.
He offers his understanding that being a man under authority, with soldiers under him, he simply has to give the order and it will happen. Who then is under Christ? All of us. The servant. The centurion. The apostles. I love Jesus’ reaction. This man’s faith is unexpected. He’s not been brought up with Moses and the prophets and all the tradition of the Jewish faith. He’s no learned scholar; he may know little to nothing about the fore fathers. But he has faith.
Where do I have faith when it’s a strain? When do I make that trusting leap? When do I not have my own plans, my own security net, my own back up idea, just in case? When do I truly lay it all out for God and say, heal me. Make me Yours. Make me whole in You. I want to dive into this faith and quit hedging my bets.
Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.