The servant of the centurion

We are at the second miracle in the Gospel of Matthew. And this is the second miracle that Jesus did through a healing, and it comes true mainly for both the Word and faith.

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Gospel - Matthew [8,5-13]

It is also the first that happens at a distance, without the physical contact of Jesus. Of course, an unnatural healing surprises us, because it highlights the breaking of God into nature.

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion met him who begged him and said: "Lord, my servant is at home, in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain". He said to him, "I will come and heal him". But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof, but just say the word and my servant will be healed. Even though I am also a subordinate, I have soldiers under me and I tell one: "Go!", And he goes; and to another: "Come!", And he comes; and to my servant: "Do this!", And he does it". Listening to him, Jesus was amazed and said to those who followed him: "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith! Now I tell you that many will come from East and West and will sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the children of the kingdom will be cast out into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. " And Jesus said to the centurion: "Go, let it happen to you as you believed." In that instant his servant was healed.

Exegesis - Matthew [8,5-13]

We are in Capernaum, where Jesus initially carried out his activity, and a centurion, a subordinate officer who was probably in the service of Herod Antipas, governor of Galilee, comes to meet him. The centurion was not Jewish but kind, and it can be deduced that he was a proselyte.

At first he looks for Jesus and then, having found him, he turns to the Lord, presenting him with a case in front of which he is powerless. Since he does not resign himself to the suffering produced by the disease, he addresses Jesus with the following words: "Lord, my servant is at home, in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain". He continues: "Just say the word and my servant will be healed".

In other words, the centurion says to Jesus: "You are that God who made everything with the Word, and your word has a divine power".

And Jesus replies to the centurion: "Go, let it happen to you as you believed". And in that precise moment the servant heals! Matthew emphasizes that the healing of the servant is not the work of Jesus, but of the great faith of the centurion: with the willingness to recognize the divinity of Jesus, the centurion obtains what is requested and becomes a model of faith. In fact, Jesus says: "I have never found such great faith in all Israel". Faith therefore lies in recognizing in Jesus the word of God, not just a learned word, but a word that has the power of God in it. A word that acts. A word that creates. A word that realizes.

We too need the Word of Jesus and to believe fully in it, so that we can feel the presence of God in it. Not an imaginary presence but a presence that is reflected in history, in the concrete facts of every day.

This is the act of faith. This is the act that is based on the recognition of the Word. And the centurion's expression "Just say a word" is beautiful, which reveals his confident awareness in the power of Jesus' word. He as a centurion has the experience of the word obeyed, that is, of the orders that his commanders impose on him and that he follows; and also of the commanded word, that which he addresses to his subordinates, who then obey and execute. If so, he has unlimited trust in the Word, in the power of God's Word.

All miracles are accomplished through faith in the Word! We must seek this Word, recognize it as God's power to do His will. On the surface it seems easy to do God's will, but it becomes difficult when we let doubt insinuate and give credibility more to our desires than to divine plans: a dangerous and frequent temptation, which tries to confuse our will with that of God. In fact, it is customary to ask for God's help to fulfill our desires and then complain because the Lord has not made himself heard, but He cannot help us because our will does not lead to salvation. Then the change indicates the centurion, with his asking the Lord to teach us to understand His will in order to be able to carry it out.

To do God's will, we must not deny our will because our will is a fundamental fact within us. It is the will that creates our identity; and the Lord loves our identity, because the Lord loves us individually. The Lord does not take away our will from us, but we must enlighten our will so that we become capable of carrying out His will. It is necessary to ask Jesus insistently: "Lord, give me your wisdom so that I can know your will". This request is inherent in the Our Father, which teaches us to ask "Our Father [...] your will be done" or "Show me your will so that I can follow it". And the Father responds to this request by giving us the ability to recognize Jesus, so that by obeying Jesus the will of the Father is done.

It might seem complicated but it is not so much that the parable gives as an example its success by a pagan. That pagan (the centurion) who never attended any school to understand what the relationship with God should be like, but who nevertheless had this great gift within himself, the gift of recognizing Jesus and of recognizing the strength of his word because it is the Word of God. This interior attitude must push the will to say: "Lord, I only want to do your will, let me know your will". Only in this way will he manifest his will to us and make us understand that the will of God is in Jesus and that we must live according to his gospel. This will be the point of arrival, it will be our Christmas, because it will be the moment in which Jesus will be born within us. And He will infuse us with his wisdom, guide our will and infuse us with the gift of the Spirit. And everything that previously seemed impossible will become possible.