Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs
Readings; 1 Tm 2:1-8, Gospel Lk 7:1-10
The well known Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho shares a beautiful story in his masterpiece the ‘Alchemist.’ The story goes thus a man had two sons. The eldest son was a soldier in the Roman army and the youngest son was a poet. The youngest son was very promising, his poems were well known and he was invited by various kings to listen to his melodious poems. Father has died and after many years he was blessed with an opportunity to know what happened to his sons. The angel told him that one of his sons became popular and everywhere people used his words in their moments of prayer. The father was mighty happy and he was quite sure that it was his younger son and people are repeating his poems. But for his surprise, the angel shared that people are not repeating his words but the words of his eldest son who was a Roman soldier became a centurion. One day one of his servants fell ill and he went to a well known Jewish rabbi and sought his help to heal the servant. The rabbai was ready to come home and heal him. But he said to rabbi: ‘Lord I am not worthy to receive you here, you enough to tell a word my servant shall be healed…’
I am sure wherever a Holy Eucharist is celebrated the words of the centurion are also remembered. Today’s gospel passage invites us to get into the shoe of this Roman Centurion. This centurion remains an exemplary role model for each one of us. He approached Jesus not for his own sake, or for his family members but for his servant’s sake. This depicts the warmth and depth of this person. A centurion who was supposed to be a strict disciplinarian and merciless leader becomes paragon of love and care. It is interesting to notice that Jews were deadly against the Roams and they were eagerly waiting for means to break down their slavery. However, we see Jewish leaders intercede to Jesus on behalf of this roman soldier because he loved the nation of Israel and helped them to construct their synagogue.
As soon as Jesus heard about this, he goes to the centurion’s house and he sent a word to Jesus through his servants saying that he is not worthy to receive Jesus in his house. He acknowledges his authority over his servants but he recognizes and acknowledges that the authority of Jesus is greater than his own. In a way, he wanted to say that Jesus is the Master. He pleads with Jesus to utter a word his servant shall be healed. Here, we see a gradual ascending in his faith. First, he acknowledged his unworthiness, recognized the authority of Jesus and now surrendering himself to his authority and proclaiming him as the master of his household. By hearing this Jesus says: “Even in Israel I have not seen such faith.” Luke wanted to say that salvation is not the monopoly of Jews but it is for all. As we have discussed in the story, we utter the words of the centurion every day during the Holy Eucharist before the reception of the Holy Communion but do we really mean it? Are we aware of our unworthiness to receive Jesus in our hearts? Are you ready to accept Jesus as the sole master of your life? As we meditate on this Word of God let us personalize the spirituality of the centurion and grow into the person of Jesus.