The centurion’s faith
Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
That gospel episode about a centurion who asked some people to approach Christ for him, and to beg on his behalf for the cure of his sick slave (cfr. Lk 7,1-10) teaches us the lesson that we should have a strong faith if we want to ask some special favor from God.
As the story goes, Christ responded immediately to the request, but when he was near the centurion’s house, the centurion told him not to bother to enter his house, saying that he was not worthy to have Christ enter his house.
He told Christ that like him, the centurion had certain authority and would just give orders to his subordinates who would carry them out. He wanted the cure of his slave to take place that way—“just say the word and my servant will be healed,” he said.
Christ was so impressed by this show of the centurion’s faith that his servant was immediately healed at that hour even if Christ did not have face-to-face encounter with the servant.
We should try our best to develop the faith as that of the centurion. The problem we have is that we lack faith. It is this deficiency that disables us to see a deeper and richer reality that is beyond what we simply see, touch and understand. It is this deficiency that prevents us from asking for some miracles in some difficult situations we can find ourselves in, and from experiencing them.
Remember that time when Christ was pursued by two blind men (cfr Mt 9,27-31). They shouted, “Lord, have pity on us.” But Christ asked them if they have faith. “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they immediately replied. Then Christ told them, “Let it be done to you according to your faith.” And they were cured.
In all the other miraculous cures narrated in the gospel, faith plays a very crucial role. The woman who was cured of her hemorrhage was also commended by Christ because of her faith, though it was a faith that was not openly expressed. “Be of good heart, daughter, your faith has made you whole…” (Mt 9,22)
The same with the blind man, Bartimaeus, the father of the possessed boy who in his great distress told our Lord earnestly, “I believe, but help my unbelief.”
Besides the lack of faith, many of us have come to associate miracles with big, extraordinary things. Unless a blind man sees again, or a lame starts to walk, or a dead rises to life again, people nowadays say there can be no miracles taking place.
It’s a question of faith. When one has faith, even if it is just little, we can see the marvels of God taking place all around everyday. That one perseveres in prayer, or decides to confess his sins after a long period of sinfulness, or a husband being faithful to his wife in spite of the strong temptations, etc., these are miracles too.
They are miracles because these situations often defy human logic and worldly wisdom. But then again, they can only be acknowledged if one has faith. Faith enables us to see beyond appearances and the reality painted only by human and worldly values.
Let us hope that we can be like the centurion, often repeating more or less the same words that now are part of the liturgy of the Mass: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”