Monday, 1st week of Advent – Matthew 8: 5-12

Imagine Jesus saying to us, “man you rock”. That would make more than just our day, it would make our year.  A compliment means more to anyone when it comes from someone significant and Jesus pays a superlative compliment because he was ‘amazed’ by the faith of this gentle giant who had a hundred men at this command. It was his faith which impressed Jesus, not the position he held.

The words of faith expressed by the centurion, have not only found itself in the liturgy of the Church but has been positioned as an acclamation of faith before we receive the Lord in Holy Communion albeit with a slight modification; “I am not worthy to have you under my roof, only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” No matter who we are, no matter what position we hold, we humbly echo at every Eucharistic celebration the words of faith spoken two thousand years ago by perhaps the first convert to the faith.

The centurion was seeking help and his appeal to Jesus was for someone he had grown to care and love; his servant. Yet this centurion exhibited great sensitivity to Jesus. Ritually, Jesus would have been unclean if he had entered the home of a Gentile such as this centurion, besides the Roman centurion represented the hate the Jews had for an occupying force. Being seen in a Romans house would sound alarm bells of treachery and no self- respecting Rabbi would pull off a disastrous public relation stunt that would end a ‘career’ just when it began.

Jesus was willing to take more than just a chance when he said to the centurion that he would come (to the centurions home) and cure his servant. The centurion now stands in the line of praise for the words he uttered, for he was culturally sensitive not to ruin the reputation of this young rabbi who was willing to risk it all when he offered to enter a Gentile home. Both actions were motived by love and concern for others and their love paid off.

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