Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

The centurions and our coach driver

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel  have I found such faith ….  And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour (his) servant was healed …. When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word  and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Mt 8,5-17

When the centurions enter the scene of the gospel, we always receive great lessons of faith. The one we have met today serves at Capernaum, in Galilee. He glorifies Jesus’s lordship like a few other characters in the Gospel: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed”. Listening to him, Jesus is surprised and tells to those who follow him: “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel  have I found such faith”. Isaiah’s quotation at the end of today’s Gospel, “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases”, has to do, on the other hand, to the centurion serving in Jerusalem, who we meet under the cross. While he is there to check that the execution is carried out regularly, he sees Jesus dying that way, forgiving everybody, and he let the same sentence that God had spoken to Jesus during the transfiguration on the mount Tabor for the first time on earth. It is the truth that the centurion reads in the transfiguration of the cross: “Truly, this was the Son of God” (Mt 27,54). These centurions are two pagans; they are there for their service, not as part of the crowd following Jesus along the Sea of ​​Galilee, neither of the crowd on the Calvary. They belong to those people who are there by chance, who understand everything and teach us what faith is. Last year, I went to Medjugorje for a week with a group. At lunchtime, at the hotel, I was always sitting next to Paul, the coach driver. One day, I asked him: “Paul, are you here only as driver, or also for your own spiritual journey?”. He replied “It’s seventy-two times that I take people to Medjugorje, and each time, engagements permitting, I have always found a way to do what you do. The only thing I can’t do is to climb the mountains of appearances, because they are very uneven and I can not risk a sprained ankle, given the service that I perform”. What a lesson!

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