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The Example of a Roman Centurion

Homily for Monday of the First Week of Advent

A Roman centurion approaches Jesus and tells him that his servant is suffering. Does anyone think this scene is a little strange? Think about it for a moment. A centurion, who is a symbol of the mighty power of the Roman Empire, tells Jesus that one of his servants is suffering. Jesus readily accepts what seems to be an invitation to come to the centurion’s home. However, that was not the centurion’s intention. The centurion replies humbly that he is not worthy for Jesus to enter under his roof. Instead, this is a Roman soldier, a non-Jew, who understands authority and, as such, recognizes the authority given to Jesus to heal not just through his actions, but through his words.

There are many lessons that can be learned from this interaction.

First, it reminds us to refocus from me to those in need - much like the centurion cared for his servant.

Second, it also reminds us to refocus from me to Him. By deflecting Jesus’ intention to come to his home, the centurion is making a statement about the importance of Jesus, a seemingly unimportant healer who has made Capernaum his home.

Third, it gives us a picture of what real faith looks like. How different this man is from those in Israel who are often self-righteous or weak in faith.

Fourth, in a society plagued with narcissism, it reminds us of the importance of humility; knowing that from humility and a dependence on the Lord comes great faith and the Kingdom of God.

Seems odd, but when was the last time you yearned to model yourself after a Roman centurion? 

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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