Meditation: In Jesus' time the Jews hated the Romans because they represented everything they stood against -- including foreign domination and pagan beliefs and practices. Why did Jesus not only warmly receive a Roman centurion but praise him as a model of faith and confidence in God? In the Roman world the position of centurion was very important. He was an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. In a certain sense, he was the backbone of the Roman army, the cement which held the army together. Polybius, an ancient write, describes what a centurion should be: "They must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over-anxious to rush into the fight, but when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts." The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled as well. He risked the ridicule of his cronies by seeking help from an itinerant preacher from Galilee, and well as mockery from the Jews. Nonetheless, he approached Jesus with confidence and humility. He was an extraordinary man because he loved his slave. In the Roman world slaves were treated like animals rather than people. The centurion was also an extraordinary man of faith. He wanted Jesus to heal his beloved slave. Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his request. Are you willing to suffer ridicule in the practice of your faith? And when you need help, do you approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?
"Heavenly Father, you sent us your Son that we might be freed from the tyranny of sin and death. Increase my faith in the power of your saving word and give me freedom to love and serve others with generosity and mercy as you have loved me."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/