When he 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 come under my roof; but only speak 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.”
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 in the kingdom of heaven.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As a Roman centurion and officer of the imperial army, the man seeking Jesus’ blessings and intervention in Matthew’s Gospel account had far superior socio-economic status to Jesus; yet he begged for help while declaring himself unworthy to even invite Jesus to his house. Jesus is surprised to find the grace and humility in the centurion not merely for his faith in Jesus’ healing power, but more for his care and compassion for his servant.
Roman soldiers were trained to be superior to those they conquered and presided over and they scorned the Jews. This centurion humbles himself significantly before Jesus by giving him great honor and deference. At the same time, he also puts his own reputation on the line by seeking help for, and showing compassion for, his servant. Like the centurion, St. Ignatius was a soldier who went through a conversion and who then instituted the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus to be constantly in the service of others.
—John LaMantia is a graduate of Fordham University and Saint Ignatius College Prep who is a trial attorney in the service of others. He is on the JFAN Chicago board for the Midwest Jesuits and continues to provide his four children with a Jesuit high school and college education.
Lord, so much of our daily activities are structured and compartmentalized by societal conventions and barriers. Give us the grace to listen to our heart, and the strength to reach out to those we can help, regardless of status or circumstance.
—John LaMantiaPlease share the Good Word with your friends!