WHEN JESUS RETURNED TO CAPERNAUM after the Sermon on the Mount, a group of the Jewish leaders of the city came and sought Him out. The disciples were probably alarmed when they saw this delegation approaching, anticipating a repercussion from Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees, but the mission of the elders of Capernaum was quite benign. They had come in behalf of a certain centurion, a captain in the garrison of Herod, who besought Jesus to cure one of his favorite servants who was at the point of death.
Though a pagan, the centurion was favorably disposed toward the Jews, and the elders earnestly pleaded with Jesus to help him. “He is worthy that Thou shouldst do this for him, for he loves our nation and himself has built us our synagogue.”
Without any discussion, Jesus gently agreed:
“I will come and cure him.”
And He went off with them in the direction of the house of the centurion. But as they drew near the place they were met by the centurion’s servants, who brought a somewhat curious message from the captain himself: “Lord, do not trouble Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof; this is why I did not think myself worthy to come to Thee. But say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, and have soldiers subject to me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Apparently this man had heard of the miraculous cure Jesus had wrought a month before, when He had healed the child of an official at Caperrnaum, though He Himself was many miles away, at Cana.
Touched by the centurion’s humble faith, Jesus said to His followers:
“Amen I say to you, not even in Israel have I found so great a faith.”
And when the messengers returned, they found the servant recovered and in good health.
Meditation: The centurion sought a cure for his servant, not for himself. He was a truly religious man, having contributed to the building of the Jewish synagogue. Humble and modest, he did not approach Christ himself, but asked the elders of the town to speak to Him. A man of deep faith, he never doubted the power of Jesus to cure his servant. His prayer was answered promptly by Christ. If I had the qualities of this centurion, perhaps my prayers would be more readily answered.
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 63-64. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.