To Be A Soldier For Christ

Matthew 8: 5-17
Gn 18:1-15 / Lk 1:46-55

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 person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me.
(Matthew 8:8-9)

What does it take to be Christ’s soldier?
Intelligence? Strength? Courage? Honor?
No, it just takes complete surrender,
With Faith for shield, meekness for armor.

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached Him with an appeal, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home, paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter my house; say only the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. 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 from 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.

Reflection

The centurion was a Roman officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. As commander, he knew the power that one in authority wielded, and having heard about the power Jesus had over demons and disease, he believed that Jesus could heal his servant with nothing more than a command. So it was not necessary to trouble the Lord to come to his house. Besides, he respected the sensitivity of the Jews about entering pagan households (and getting defiled). He also addressed Jesus as “Lord” even though all Jews looked upon Roman soldiers with fear and awe, especially centurions. For his humility and great faith, Jesus told him, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that moment, his servant was completely healed.

Whenever we receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, we are reminded of that Roman centurion as we pray, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You; say only the word, and I shall be healed.” By His Word we have been called, by His Word we have been healed and restored, and worthy to receive Him in Holy Communion.

A constant prayer to God is for the grace to become a worthy soldier of Christ. This world is a constant battleground of good against evil, that we must resolve to fight for the values and ideals of Christ, with our faith in Him as our “shield and buckler”. Like the centurion who showed great faith in the authority of Jesus, we must also aspire for “a faith like none other found in Israel.” (Mt.8:10) There are many battles to fight in this life for us to win such an accolade from our Lord. In the meantime, what is most important is first to forge the armor of humility, for there lies the true worth of a good soldier. Jesus was immediately won over by the Roman centurion, but not by his power and authority, but by his humility and his compassion for his servant. The soldier’s approach was one of surrender, begging for the life of his slave. This is the lesson that our Lord imparts to us that we may become a true soldier.

You have shown us in today’s Gospel, Lord, that it is not only by our faith that our prayers are answered, but by our compassion and intercession for the sake of others. Grant us the grace of humility to see that whatever our position or power, we are nothing and can do nothing without Your help. Amen.

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