How to Be a Soldier of Christ

Matthew 8: 5-11
Is 2: 1-5 / Ps 122: 1-9

Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.
(Matthew 8: 8)

What does it take to be Christ’s soldier
To win the battlefield within?
All it takes is total surrender,
And for God’s gift of discipline.

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 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 the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven. . .” (Mt.8:5-11)

Reflection

That Roman centurion should be our model if we aspire to become a soldier of Christ. As shown in today’s Gospel, he had genuine compassion for his servant who was “paralyzed and suffering dreadfully” (8:6). He went out of his way to seek out the Lord Jesus for help. The commander’s compassion was matched only by humility, shown in his willingness to beg for assistance, his high station notwithstanding. How many of us, under whose authority a hundred subordinates defer and obey, will personally attend to the needs of our servant when we learn that he is ill? Wouldn’t we rather put the burdensome affair into the hands of our assistant? Maybe even assume that the matter will be taken care of by one of our subordinates?

Being compassionate and humble, it was but natural that the man would also be respectful, as well as considerate of other peoples’ customs and traditions. When Jesus said He would go with him to heal his servant, the centurion responded, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter my house” (he didn’t want Jesus’ principles as a Jew compromised by entering a gentile’s house). He exemplifies the kind of people that Isaiah might well be referring to in the first reading, who “will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks… (and whose)… nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isa.2:4).

Best of all, the centurion showed great faith in the power of God’s Word. He believed that Jesus had the power to heal his servant by merely saying it.

These are the qualities of the Centurion that we should all aspire for to be soldiers of Christ. With wisdom and faith we will come to know that the greatest battle that must first be won is within. The world is not the battlefield; it is our mind and heart. And the prize at stake is our soul. The virtues of compassion, humility, respect and faith will not serve us well unless we first commit to “subject ourselves to authority” and discipline that can best be found in Holy Scriptures.

We offer You our life, Lord God, to mold according to Your will. Help us to discipline our base desires; bend our will to become humble, compassionate, respectful, and faithful to all Your commands as a good soldier should. Amen.

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