Gospel: Lk 7:1-10
When Jesus had finished teaching the people, he went to Capernaum.
A Roman military officer lived there, whose servant was very sick and near to death, a man very dear to him. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to persuade him to come and save his servant‘s life. The elders came to Jesus and begged him earnestly, saying, “He deserves this of you, for he loves our people and even built a synagogue for us.“
Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house, when the Roman officer sent friends to give this message, “Sir, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to welcome you under my roof. You see, I didn‘t approach you myself. Just give the order, and my servant will be healed. For I myself, a junior officer, give orders to my soldiers, and I say to this one,
‘Go!‘ and he goes; and to the other,
‘Come!‘ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this!‘ and he does it.“
On hearing these words, Jesus was filled with admiration. He turned and said to the people with him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.“ The people, sent by the captain, went back to his house; there they found that the servant was well.
This captain is a remarkable man, indeed! Being a gentile as well as Roman official, it would be hard to win the praise of the Jewish elders. But the elders come and speak to Jesus in favor of the captain. They attest to his goodness, his love for Jewish people, and respect for the Jewish faith. Moreover, a captain must have matters of far more serious concern than the illness of one of his servants. But for this man, the wellbeing of his ward is a value, and hence, worth his time and effort.
But Jesus commends him for something far superior: for his deep faith. The captain recognizes the holiness and authority of Jesus. In deference to Christ‘s holiness, the captain refrains from coming in front of him. In recognition of Christ‘s authority, the captain knows that if Christ utters one word, the powers in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth will obey. This gentile‘s faith is so meritorious that his words have entered the Eucharistic liturgy. Every time we prepare to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion, we make his prayer our own.