1st Week of Advent: Monday
Reading: Matthew 8: 5-11
When Jesus went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘my servant is lying at home paralysed and in great pain.’ ‘I will come myself and cure him’ said Jesus. The centurion replied, ‘Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: ‘Go, and he goes; to another: Come her, and he comes; to my servant: Do this and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you solemnly, nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this. And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.’
In this reflection we see the compassionate response of Jesus to people in distress. In the first instance he hears the concern of the centurion for his employee. Imagine the scene where a poor man, dependent on his employment to support his family is unable to work because he is lying at home, paralysed and in great pain. Jesus does not question the centurion about his religious belief or try to win him over to Christianity, he hears the cry of anguish and genuine concern that he has for another human being. Jesus does not pass the buck of responsibility of care of the sick to another but immediately responds by stating that he will go without delay to the person in distress. There are no half measures with Jesus, the offering that he will make is total, ‘I will cure him.’
Conscious of his unworthiness, the centurion states that he is not fit to have Jesus under his roof and asks that only a word of healing is issued forth from the mouth of Jesus. Christ applauds the faith of the centurion whose trust in the mercy of God will win many for the kingdom.
As we receive the Eucharist, we too state that we are not worthy to have Jesus under our roof. We gratefully acknowledge that because of his great love and mercy we too find ourselves worthy to be healed by him. We rejoice and give thanks and set forth to share his love and compassion to all whom we meet in our service of love.