As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 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 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.
Have you ever had your faith questioned by someone? Or felt like you lost all faith in God? This is how the Israelites felt when Jesus was preaching, pointing out all the ways they were wrong, so they were not willing to accept Jesus as the Son of God. Those in power who had studied God’s Word all of their lives failed to recognize who Jesus was – blinded by their own lack of faith and heartless religion. This is why Jesus took His Word to the Gentiles.
When Jesus went into the town of Capernaum, He was approached by a centurion, in charge of 100 men in the Roman army. This centurion was very powerful leader and his request of Jesus was highly unusual. Under normal circumstances, a centurion would not care about his servants. Yet, he was humble in asking Jesus to heal his suffering servant. Jesus, moved by his faith, told him He would go and cure him. The centurion knew he could not take Jesus to his house for two reasons: first, he had 100 soldiers with him who would have to follow along, and second, he knew that a Jew was not allowed to go into the home of a Gentile. What is amazing about this story is that this centurion understood Jesus’ authority, similar to his own, and had the faith to know Jesus didn’t need to be physically present to heal – only say the word.
Jesus is “marveled” by the centurion’s faith, He announces to the crowd that He had not found such faith of anyone in Israel. Jesus says in closing that the Gentiles will come from all over and be able to join with the great Israeli patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven because of their faith. Jesus is sharing the treasures of Heaven with everyone, but first, we must trust his authority!
When we pray these words during 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,” we are repeating the humility and faith of the centurion. We acknowledge the power of God and our trust in Him, and receive the treasures in Heaven that comes with faith.
Jesus, increase my faith. Help me listen to the words as I pray, “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” and feel their true meaning in my heart. Heal the sickness in my soul, so that I may receive you fully this Christmas. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.