Donald R. Elly, M.Div.
Scripture, though it has been read many times, can contain new surprises each time we reflect on it. In fact one of the temptations to be addressed is to continue to be open to the Holy Spirit revealing a new truth. This is one function of the Holy Spirit I’ve come to value as read a familiar passage. My prayer is, “God through you Holy Spirit moving in my heart, and body, breathe new life into this passage that I may discover you alive in me and in this world.” Amen.
In the past I’ve seen only the soldier concerned about “slave he valued highly who was ill and close to death” sending the slave to Jesus because he did not wish to lose his service. Not only did I look at it as one authority consulting another, but I assumed an instrumental mentality on the part of the Centurion. Looked at with the eyes of faith (as trust), it is clear the Centurion has a trust in Jesus that comes from the Jewish community and listening carefully to people he cares for, not just as a solider, but as fellow humans created by God. Faith does that, doesn’t it? It breaks down walls.
The second surprise for me is the Centurion’s humility. It surfaces in how he approaches Jesus. He sends those who can vouch for the genuineness of his request and what they say about him is also a surprise. This soldier is no occupier. He has reached out to the community and serves it rather than being served by it.
Furthermore when Jesus comes to him, the Centurion asks him to heal from a distance, not as a test, but, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am 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.” Jesus is amazed at the man’s willingness to put himself so completely under God’s authority when his rank and role require him to make the Roman emperor an object of worship.
The most important point is that despite how we feel about ourselves God has a different view of us. By faith of even the smallest amount God can, if we are open, accomplish the development of the Kingdom of heaven and the healing that Jesus brings. Surprise indeed!
May 29, 2016; Cycle C; 2nd Sunday of Pentecost
1st Kings 18:20-39; Psalm 96; Galatians 1:1-12; *Luke 7:1-10