DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY: THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION
Gospel of Saturday, 12th week in Ordinary Time
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: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission)
The centurion’s faith
- 5-13 “Centurion”: an officer of the Roman army in control of one hundred men.
- This man’s faith is still an example to us.
- At the solemn moment when a Christian is about to receive Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist, the Church’s liturgy places on his lips and in his heart these words of the centurion, to enliven his faith: “Lord, I am not worthy
- The Jews of this time regarded any Jew who entered a Gentile’s house as contracting legal impurity (cf. Jn 19:28; Acts 11:2-3).
- This centurion has the deference not to place Jesus in an embarrassing position in the eyes of his fellow Israelites. He shows that he is convinced that Jesus has power over disease and illness; he suggests that if Jesus just says the word, he will do the needful, without having actually to visit the house: he is reasoning, in a simple, logical way, on the basis of his own professional experience.
- Jesus avails of this meeting with a Gentile believer to make a solemn prophecy to the effect that his Gospel is addressed to the world at large: all men, of every nation and race, of every age and condition, are called to follow Christ.
A number of cures
- 14-15 After his body — or soul — is healed, everyone is called to “rise up” from his previous position, to serve Jesus Christ. No laments, no delays; instead one should make oneself immediately available to the Lord.
- 16-17 The expulsion of evil spirits is one of the main signs of the establishment of the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 12:8). Similarly, the healing of diseases, […], is one of the signs of the “works of the Messiah” proclaimed by the prophets (cf. Is 29:18; 35:5-6).
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC 1: Is your faith as strong as that of the centurion’s?
What faith the centurion in today’s gospel exhibited. He told Jesus that his servant in his home was paralyzed and in pain. Jesus was willing to go with him. But the centurion did not allow him. He felt that he was not worthy to have Jesus in his home and trusted that Jesus could heal him without even seeing or touching his servant. And Jesus was astounded and because of this, He told him his servant was healed.
Is our faith as deep as the centurion? Are we confident that Jesus will heal us?
What is ailing you right now? Is it a love relationship or friendship that is turning sour? A problem in the church or community that has polarized it into factions? A family quarrel that is breaking it apart?
His health was in tatters and his life was mired in financial wrangles. Frank Sinatra refused to stop giving concerts. “I’ve got to earn more money,” he said.
His concerts, sad to say, were becoming more and more uneven. Uncertain of his memory, he became dependent on teleprompters. When his daughter, Tina, saw her father at Desert Inn in Las Vegas, he struggled through the show and felt so sick at the end that he needed oxygen from a tank that he kept on hand. At another show he forgot the lyrics to “Second Time Around,” a ballad he had sung a thousand times. His adoring audience finished it for him.
“I couldn’t bear to see Dad struggle,” Tina said. “I remembered all the times he had repeated the old boxing maxim ‘You gotta get out before you hit the mat.’ He wanted to retire at the top of his game, and I always thought he would know when his time came, but in pushing eighty he lost track of when to quit. After seeing one too many of these fiascoes, I told him, ‘Pop, you can stop now; you don’t have to stay on the road.’”
With a stricken expression he said, “No, I’ve got to earn more money. I have to make sure everyone is taken care of.” Since Sinatra’s death, there has been constant family wrangling over his fortune. (Tina with Jeff Coplon, My Father’s Daughter)
Jesus heals without preference for anyone. He heals everyone who calls upon Him. Yesterday, it was a leper. Today it is a centurion’s servant.
The centurion has been given favorable billing in the gospels. A centurion appeared in the following instances:
• By the cross of Jesus at crucifixion
• Reported Jesus’ death to Pilate
• Conversion of a Gentile in Cornelius, who was generous with the poor
• Rescue of Paul in Jerusalem as he was being mobbed
• Prevented the execution of prisoners in a shipwreck Paul was present
Centurions were men of wisdom and character. Jesus’ public ministry started with a centurion to identify Jesus as the Son of God. And at the end of Jesus’ public ministry, one centurion proclaims, “Truly, this is the Son of God.”
Do we have a faith like that of the centurion? If we desire healing, whether it is physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual, do we trust God that we will be healed?
When we ask God for healing, perhaps, the healing we expect may not happen. It may be in another form that is not physical. But trust that God wants to make us whole. Let us just be open to what He can do for us in our lives.
TOPIC 2: DOES YOUR FAITH LEAD YOU TO ACCEPT WHAT GOD OFFERS?
In today’s gospel reading, we witness the faith of a pagan, a centurion, who approaches Jesus to seek healing for his servant. Jesus, known for his healing touch, volunteered to go to the centurion’s house. But his sense of unworthiness and the respect he had for Jesus’ Jewishness ⏤ a typical Jew avoids being in the company of pagans ⏤ makes this centurion refuse Jesus’ offer. We reflect on our willingness to accept God’s will for us after we have prayed for a different outcome.
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