Fourth Sunday of Matthew

In today’s Gospel reading we hear of a centurion (a high ranking Roman officer in charge of 100 soldiers) who approaches Jesus in the town of Capernaum. The centurion explains that he has a servant at his house who is ill and suffering terribly. Upon Christ offering to go to the centurion’s house to meet the ill servant, the centurion implores Christ requesting that due to his unworthiness he does not expect Christ to come to his home, “but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed”.

The centurion’s faith was so great that he did not require the physical presence of Christ to heal his servant, but believed that with His mere word his servant would be healed. Christ marvels at this man’s great faith in Him and says, “Truly, I say to you I have not found such great faith in all of Israel”, and the servant was healed at that moment, from a distance.

Christ marvels at this man for a number of reasons. Firstly, Christs sees the goodwill that the centurion has for his servant. This servant was actually a slave. In contrast to what was occurring at the time, the centurion , treats the servant as a human being-with goodwill, respect and sensitivity to his servant’s needs and suffering.

Secondly, Christ marvels at the centurion’s faith. The centurion professes his unworthiness in having Christ come to his house. He says, just as he as an officer gives orders to his soldiers with a simple word, how much more power will Christ’s word , who is divine, have the power to heal with a mere word only!

Moved by the centurion’s great faith, Christ then proclaims that many will come from many nations and cultures, from all parts of the world to eat at the table of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, however, those of us who are considered inheritors may miss out. He says this because the centurion was a roman, a gentile. He was not a Jew who were considered one of the chosen, as was believed at the time. This is a message which extends to all of us. We are reminded that it is not enough to call ourselves Christians simply by name.

But instead, we are called to think about the principles by which we live, our actions, our words, our behaviours. To what extent do they reflect Christian principles and values? Christ calls us to have faith, but asks this to be extended into the good works and actions of lives.

Source:Adapted from the sermon by Fr Gerasimos of St George , Rose Bay, Sydney 05/07/2020

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