The Centurion’s Faith

Luke 7: 1-10
1Tim 2:1-8 / Psa 28

I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.
(Luke 7:9)

With power and authority
Comes great responsibility,
Pray to God that our life may be
Ruled by faith and humility.

When Jesus had finished teaching the people who were listening, He entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to Him, asking Him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with Him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to Him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. (Luke 7:1-10)

Reflection

The story about the healing of the Centurion’s servant is related both in the Gospel accounts of St. Matthew and St. Luke. Although both evangelists related the same event, there are marked differences in the telling. In the account of Matthew, it is the Centurion himself who came to Jesus to plead for his servant’s healing, while in Luke he sent some emissaries. But what makes the account of Luke more significant is the way it highlights the admirable traits of the Centurion. Of course both accounts relate how the Centurion was compassionate to a fault, considering his station above his servant. He was also very considerate of the customs and traditions of other people, even though they were subject to him. Both accounts also tell about his great humility, saying he did not consider himself worthy to face Jesus even if he wielded power as a Roman officer. However, the Gospel of Luke gives us a more detailed picture of the Centurion’s faith. First of all, it relates how he was highly respected by the Jewish religious community, so much so that their elders interceded in his behalf. But these emissaries pleaded with Jesus by citing the Centurion’s merits, saying: “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” These were not the words of the Centurion. Through his friends, the message he sent to Jesus clearly expressed his sincerity: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Even though he was a pagan, he showed great faith in the Word of Jesus! He had only heard about Jesus, and yet he believed in Him with all his heart.

How about us? How much faith do we have in the truth of God’s Word in the bible? Do we believe that even if Jesus is not physically present today He can still heal us of our ailments? Or do we ask God to answer our prayers (like the Jewish elders) by citing our good works? God does not need to hear that we deserve His blessing in order to answer our prayers. No one can ever claim that God owes him a favor. On the contrary, the whole mankind owes God an eternal debt that can never be repaid. He gave us “one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as ransom for all” (1Tim.2:5-6). Unlike the Jewish elders, the Centurion set the right example in approaching God in supplication: in total humility for his unworthiness, and total trust in the Lord’s power and mercy.

Lord, may the example of the Centurion inspire us to trust in Your mercy and wisdom more than in our own faith and good works; for it is by Your grace that our prayers are answered, just as it is by Your grace that we are freed from our sins and receive our salvation. Amen.

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