When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also 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 the slave does it.” (Matthew 8: 5-11)
When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.” ( Matthew 8: 5-11)
I once attended an Anglican Mass where the celebrant did something that struck me in its beauty. As the congregation would pray, “Lord, I am not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table, but thou art the same God whose property is always to have mercy …” the priest would kneel with his nose to the ground before the altar, not even repeating the prayer aloud. His silent prostration embodied the attitude that the spoken prayer expressed: total self-abasement before God’s holiness, and total confidence in God’s graciousness.
The centurion from today’s Gospel reminds me of that priest. He knows that neither he nor his servant is worthy of Jesus’ attention, but he also knows that Jesus is powerful and gracious to heal. His uniform doesn’t make him worthy of Jesus’ time, nor does the generosity involved in presenting a petition on behalf of a mere servant. His faith—the faith that makes him an acceptable guest at the banquet of the kingdom of heaven—is the faith which is entirely based on trust in Jesus’ desire to heal and provide.
Each day, we have the opportunity to say, with the humility and faith of the centurion, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Each day, God answers that humility and faith with an invitation to the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus I come before you today with the deepest of gratitude for all that you have done for me. I humbly offer you my desire to love you more and serve you more faithfully.
Conversation with Christ: Christ Jesus let me ask you for the faith that you demand from me. I’m going to remember now to turn to you with my concerns, no matter how small, knowing you’re accompanying me, and wish to help and guide me. In return, help me to recognize you in those who seek my aid and give me the generosity to answer promptly and graciously in imitation of you.