Fr. Shnork Souin
You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples.
When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. 2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
This very well-known account from Jesus’ public ministry, starting in Capernaum, clearly identifies faith with obedience. Jesus shows that the centurion sees Jesus as having the authority over all matters and can command obedience to His Word over all things. He is quick to compare the absolute authority by which he is himself commanded and the authority with which he commands the forces under him with divine, Eternal and heavenly authority that Christ commands.
How many of us would depend on Christ’s authority with such conviction and place such great faith in our hope in Him? While it’s easy to say, “yes, I believe in Jesus”, but be tempted by doubt, and easier yet to say, “Jesus is my Lord,” the possibility of placing such faith is staggering but yet we see evidence from the scripture and proof in our lives. In his treatise De Principiis, the early church philosopher, the blessed Origen says; True faith implies and necessitates, trust. This kind of faith is an amazing faith and the kind that makes even Jesus marvel! In verse 9 of the Gospel, it says, despite the fact that Jesus never met him face to face, that when Jesus heard of the centurion’s faith he “marveled”. This amazing faith is also an unexpected “faith”, recalling that Jesus spent most of his ministry with the poor, the afflicted, the marginalized, here he is summoned by the centurion, the officer of the Roman guard and a natural enemy of the Jews. Despite or maybe because of this remarkable contrast to the norm, the faith of the centurion is all the more spectacular. Naturally we expect to hear a happy conclusion in the gospel, and we do! This miracle is even more memorable and amazing in that not only is the centurion’s slave miraculously healed but the centurion never doubted but believed that Jesus only had to command the servant to be well and he would be well. How does a centurion, who is not of Israel and at the time presumably a pagan recognize that Jesus is a man of authority and able to command nature and heal an unimportant servant of some pagan centurion?
Jesus says that he has not seen such faith in all of Israel, yet the faith of this centurion apprehends Jesus as the One through whom “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” (Colossians 1:16) My prayer is that Jesus increase our faith and inspire us to trust Him and place our hope in Him, with the same faith and trust of the centurion, without doubt but always calling on Him with both hope and expectation and offering glory to Him together with His Father and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever, world without end, Amen.