Scriptural and historical background to today’s Gospel with Discussion Questions at end:
Today’s Gospel is a mirror. It reminds us of the words we say during the Mass at the moment of communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my house, say but the word and I will be healed”. Look at this text in the mirror, it suggests the following:
• The person who seeks Jesus is a pagan, a gentile, a soldier of the Roman army, which dominated and exploited the people. It is not religion nor the desire for God, but rather the need and the suffering which impels him to seek Jesus. Jesus has no prejudices. He does not demand anything first, he accepts and listens to the request of the Roman official.
• Jesus’ answer surprises the centurion, because it is beyond his expectation. The centurion did not expect that Jesus would go to his house. He feels unworthy: “I am not worthy”. This means that he considered Jesus a highly superior person.
• The centurion expresses his faith in Jesus saying: “Say only one word and my servant will be cured”. He believes that the word of Jesus is capable of healing. From where does he get this great faith? From his profession experience as a centurion! Because when a centurion gives an order, the soldier obeys. He has to obey! Thus he imagines Jesus: it is enough for Jesus to say one word, and things will happen according to his word. He believes the word of Jesus encloses a creative force.
• Jesus was surprised, astonished, and praises the faith of the centurion. Faith does not consist in accepting, repeating and decorating a doctrine, but in believing and trusting in the word of Jesus.
Discussion and Practical Questions
Please feel free to share personal experiences
• Placing myself in the place of Jesus: how do I accept and listen to the persons of other religions?
• Placing myself in the place of the centurion: which is the personal experience that leads me to believe in Jesus?