Gospel: Mt 8:5-17
When Jesus entered Capernaum, an army captain approached him, to ask his help, “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.” Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
The captain answered, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers. And if I say to one, ‘Go!’ he goes; and if I say to another, ‘Come!’ he comes; and if I say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished; and said to those who were following him, “I tell you, I have not found such faith in Israel. I say to you, many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven; but the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown out into extreme darkness; there, they will wail and grind their teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the captain, “Go home now. As you believed, so let it be.” And at that moment, his servant was healed.
Jesus went to Peter’s house and found Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with fever. He took her by the hand and the fever left her; she got up and began to wait on him.
Toward evening, they brought to Jesus many people possessed by evil spirits; and with a word, he drove out the spirits. He also healed all who were sick. In this way, what was said by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled: He bore our infirmities and took on himself our diseases.
When we belong to a given group (national, social, artistic, etc.), almost all of us have the tendency to look with suspicion on all the people not belonging to our particular group. Can they not see how excellent our group is? Why do they not join us and become like us?
This tendency is also found among religious groups. For example, since Catholics believe, and rightly so, that the Catholic Church contains the fullness of Divine Revelation and all the means of salvation necessary, as Vatican II teaches us (LG, n.16), some Catholics might wonder why not everybody on earth joins her. Hence the temptation to think that non-Catholics—and especially non-Christians like Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others—are not as open to God as Christians are, that these pagans have little chance of being saved.
Today’s gospel reading should dispel such unfounded suspicions. There we see a pagan soldier show a trust in Jesus that few Catholics have. And Jesus highly praised him for it, comparing him favorably to the so-called “heirs of the Kingdom” who will end in extreme darkness.
God looks at a person’s heart, not at a person’s religious affiliation, which often results from a pure accident of birth. We must be as welcoming as he is.
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