Gospel: Mt 8:5-11
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.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells a Jewish crowd something that must have surprised them. Why? Because they were keenly aware of being God’s Chosen People, the People of the Covenants, the People of the Promises, the People from whom would one day emerge the Messiah, the King of the world. And yet, upon hearing the astonishing act of faith of an army captain belonging to the Roman occupants, Jesus predicts: “Many will come from east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast of the Kingdom of heaven.” This is quite a prophecy! Apparently pagans will enter into Heaven in droves!
As Catholics, do we feel comfortable at the prospect of being a small minority in Heaven? Because that is what will most likely happen, if we trust the many “universalist” texts of the Bible. “God wants all humans to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4), Paul tells us. And God will presumably adopt all possible means to make this happen. Are we looking forward to being swamped by Hindus and Buddhists in Heaven? We should. Because each of them is our precious brother or sister for whom Christ died.