Sunday, November 11, 2018
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a Roman military officer came to Him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The Roman centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following Him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith…” – Matthew 8:5-10
Forefront in this teaching moment is the Roman officer’s high faith in Christ’s miraculous power, not one demanding signs nor rationality. This Roman military officer simply believe that not that Christ could heal but that Christ would certainly heal by whatever means Christ chose in this particular circumstance. But I sense that in the background was another quality of this Roman military officer that gave evidence of great faith … and that quality was compassion.
“Lord,” military officer said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
The Centurion did not come for self-serving reason but out of compassion for his servant. “He is at home paralyzed, suffering terribly!” In the context of those times, within the culture of severe military discipline and stoic bearing, this compassionate response of this military officer for a servant jumps off the page as being something quite remarkable. I believe it emphasizes that Christ was impressed not only by the man’s confident trust in Christ but also by the compassionate response of the soldier. Though the soldier describes his faith in the martial discipline of the chain-of-command it is actually stirred by a deeply human motivation … he has deep empathy for his servant.
I have found that great faith must be accompanied by great compassion. Somehow they are intertwined. Selfish faith is shallow faith; compassionate faith is deep faith.
I pray that I mature spiritually into this remarkable of faith known as compassionate faith.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz