To Be A Soldier of 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.
(Matthew 8:8)

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.

As Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached Him, and appealed to Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,’ and he goes, and to another, `Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard him, He marveled, and said to those who followed Him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; where men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. Jesus entered Peter’s house, and saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed by demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8: 5-17)

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 being 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 that very moment, his servant was completely healed.

It is a rare quality in a man who wields political or military power to humble himself before anyone under his authority or jurisdiction. The centurion was a Roman officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. Centurions were known to be fierce soldiers, and were thus respected and feared by the people Rome had subjugated. But this Centurion who sought the help of Jesus was different, because his life was ruled by love, love for the Jewish nation, and love for his slave. Love defined the strength of his character, matched only by his great faith in Jesus.

The example of the Centurion in today’s Gospel teaches us that to win the hearts of others, we must first conquer what 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 serve us well if we first submit ourselves to God’s authority and His discipline.

Whenever we receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, let us be reminded of that Roman centurion as we pray, “”Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my soul will 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.

Help us, Father God to develop humility in our strength, compassion for our enemies, and faith in times of trouble, so that like the Centurion in today’s Gospel, we also may win the praise of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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