September 17, 2012
Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine (Jesuit theologian, Bishop and Doctor)
Luke 7: 1-10
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set 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 this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
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 (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
An Example of Great Faith
Luke presents the centurion as a sympathetic figure in today’s Gospel reading. We can admire the tender concern for his slave’s well-being. Rather than treating him as an object to be discarded in his weakened condition, the centurion asks Jesus to restore the slave’s health. The centurion’s humility may move our hearts, too, especially given the power he wields. He considers himself unworthy to have Jesus enter his home or even to come to Jesus himself, so he sends others to intercede on his behalf. Like Jesus, we may also marvel at the centurion’s deep faith; he knows that a mere word from the Lord suffices.
Today we might examine ourselves as to how we live any or all of these qualities. Is my heart moved with compassion for the suffering of those who may be weaker than I? In my new surroundings in our nation’s capital, where I daily walk by homeless persons who may very well be “enslaved” by mental illness, addictions and despair, I hear a challenge from Jesus to recognize their human dignity, look into their faces with compassion and kindness, and say a quiet prayer for their healing.
At every Eucharist, the institution of which St. Paul recalls in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians, we echo the centurion’s humility and faith. Do I truly approach the Lord’s Body and Blood with a sense of my own unworthiness before this awesome gift, and am I utterly convinced that receiving the Lord devoutly over a lifetime brings healing graces beyond understanding, graces that do not immune me from physical illness and death but which ultimately restore the fullness of life forever?
—Fr. Rob Kroll, S.J.
Lord, some days we are called to be the centurion, giving our all to help family, friend, co-worker and even a distant stranger. And some days we are the ill slave, in great need of another’s compassion. We remember those we have reached out to and pray for their well-being. We also remember the many people who stood by us, encouraged us, and loved us for who we were and not for what we had. We ask a special blessing upon these people, and we look forward to expressing our gratitude to them.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Please share the Good Word with your friends!