Monday of the first week of Advent, 2022
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.”
The faith of the centurion is strong, but it begs the question, “Is that enough?”
He believed that Jesus could heal his servant and acknowledged that he is unworthy to have Jesus enter under his roof. But then what?
Did he change his life? Did he still lead his troops in the oppression of the Jewish people?
Or did he just see Jesus as another expert to be summoned when his skills are required, as he might summon a good mason to repair the archway to his residence?
The Bible does not tell us; it does not have to, because the story is about us more than it is about the centurion.
How do we treat Jesus? We may go to church on Sunday. We may say our prayers in the morning and at night. But what about in between?
Do we view God as the almighty creator whose commandments must be followed? Or do we simply see him as the one who answers some heavenly dial-a-prayer line whenever we need assistance?
God tells us that he wants more than that. In the great judgment scene from the Gospel of Matthew, (25:31-46) he tells those who are saved, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
That includes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger. It could be volunteering in a food pantry, donating clothes to a worthy charity, or helping refugees and immigrants into our communities.
It also means serving the kingdom of God by advocating for government policies that protect the environment, create an equitable tax system, and provide healthcare to those who need it.
As Christians, we must do more than cry out to God in our moments of desperation. We must assist others who require our help. Only then will we be living our faith to the fullest.
Deacon Walter C. Ayres is Director of Catholic Charities Commission on Peace and Justice in the Diocese of Albany, New York