Lam 2:2, 10-14, 18-19
In the past three months or so, we have become used to things happening at a distance from us. Children and young people have been taught at a distance, as lessons are given online and TVs. People shop at a distance as they go to the websites and have items delivered to their doors. Parishioners have been attending Mass at a distance, as they tune in to Masses via Radios and TVs. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus heals at a distance.
When a Roman centurion plead with Jesus about his seriously ill servant, Jesus was willing to go to this pagan’s home, just as he subsequently went to the home of Peter’s mother-in-law. However, the centurion did not consider himself worthy to have this renowned Jewish man of God visit his pagan home, and he expressed faith in Jesus’ ability to cure his servant at a distance. He believed that Jesus did not need to visit his home in person for him to do his healing work. Jesus could enter his home without having to physically go there.
The centurion knew the power of his own word on his subordinates, and he believed that the word of Jesus was much more powerful, powerful enough to heal at a distance. The gospel reading says that Jesus was astonished at the centurion’s faith. The centurion symbolizes all those pagans who would come to believe in Jesus without having seen or heard him, all those who believed in Jesus without having physical contact with him. In that sense, the centurion represents us all. We believe that the Lord can enter our homes, our lives, without his having to enter our homes physically in the way he entered the home of Peter’s mother in law.
Like the centurion, we believe that the Lord is never really distant from us. He can enter our homes, our hearts, our lives, at every hour of every day. ‘Say but the word’. The Lord’s word can grace and bless us at any time, in any place. All the Lord needs for that to happen is for us to have something of the centurion’s faith, something of his openness of heart and sense of expectancy. Then the Lord will be astonished at us, as he was astonished at the centurion. Amen
Fr. John Peter