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How to Amaze God
Monday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And 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 at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Opening Prayer: Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse, I ask for deeper faith in the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus, I believe! Help my unbelief.
- Humility: This Gospel passage affords us the opportunity to meditate on the virtues of this extraordinary Roman centurion. This man was a powerful military authority of the pagan Roman empire, but he humbled himself to seek out the healing presence of a Jewish rabbi he had heard about—Jesus. He felt unworthy to present himself to Jesus so he sent Jewish elders to intercede with Jesus on his behalf. As Jesus drew near, the centurion sent friends to once again proclaim his unworthiness and to beg for a healing from that distance. Truly the centurion embodied humility as defined by St. Thomas Aquinas: “…the virtue of humility consists in this, that one keep himself within his own limits; he does not stretch himself to what is above him, but he subjects himself to his superior.” He knew from the depths of his heart that “Man is a beggar before God” (CCC 2559).
- Faith: It’s probable that this humble centurion had, at some point, come to faith in the one God since he was held in such high regard by Jewish elders and had built a synagogue for them—a highly unusual act for a pagan Roman soldier. By his faith, the centurion witnesses to the mystery that “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him” (CCC 153). The centurion’s witness of faith was so profound that he amazed Jesus. The Church calls us to remember his words at every Mass when the priest proclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” and we respond, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” May the depths of our faith amaze Jesus as well.
- Piety: This humble soul received the gift of faith from God and, by remaining steadfast in this faith, bore the spiritual fruit of piety. Piety is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and it is characterized by a deep reverence and respect for God. The centurion clearly witnessed to the gift of piety by his words: “[…] I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And 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.” This man’s life of virtue is given to us as a model for our own relationship with God. Are we humble? Do we exercise the gift of faith? Do we bear fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, this Gospel teaches me it is not about what I do or who I am. It is about who you are and what you do. You are God, worthy of all praise. It is your prerogative to heal and to save. Mother Mary, intercede for me, asking the Holy Spirit to bestow on me all the virtues and to share all his gifts. Faithful centurion, pray for me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will ask the Holy Spirit to bestow on me his every virtue, to share every gift. At my evening examination of conscience, I will discern how I used the gifts God has given me and thank him for his generosity.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1831: Gifts of the Holy Spirit and 1832: Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.