Nine Sunday of Ordinary Time C: Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: 1 Kings 8:41-43; Ps 117:1, 2; Gal 1:1-2.6-10 and Luke 7:1-10
Centurion, Model of a Believer,
“Lord I am not worthy for you to enter my roof…but say the word and let my servant be healed.”
These were words of prayers I also learned at my very tender age when I was learning the Baltimore Catechism in Efik Language, for the reception of my First Holy Communion. Obong ami ndotke te afo okpodukde ke idak okom me, edi kap tin iko ndien ukpon me eyekop nsonidem. This Efik translation even added, "my soul." I had memorize this faith passage and recited it at each Mass before Communion, long before I grew up biblically to learn that it is a Centurion’s faith passage taken from Luke’s Gospel Chapter 7:6.
In the first reading of today (1 Kings 8:41-43), Israel during the time of King Solomon were made to realize that the prayer of a foreigner who come to pray wholehearted at the Temple, God’s dwelling place, could be answered. And in the Gospel, the response of Jesus, a Jewish healer to the Roman military officer, a Gentile is a clear testimony as well of universal salvation.
We have so much to learn from this story of the healing the servant of the Centurion by Jesus. It teaches us how to pray, humility and how to have deep faith in God’s healing mercies. It also teaches us how to work to overcome or at least the minimize the divisions that exist in the world, in our families and all sectors of life our modern society.
I said this because this is a foreign military commander in an occupied territory, with a sick child nearing death. He learns Jesus was in town. Rather than approach Jesus with his military might and infleuence of colonial power he humbly asked Jesus' compatriot, fellow Jews to assist him by putting forward his request to Christ. Besides his humility he the Centurion had a good rapport with the occupied local community. He even helped the Jews erect a local synagogue for worship.Though a Gentile, he loves the Jews smf believes in the universal saving Grace of God.
Jesus, though a Jew by birth also loves everybody. He responded to the Gentile’s sick call promptly. Approaching the Centurion’s home Jesus met another group of people, friends, sent by the Centurion to let Jesus know that, He was not worthy for Jesus, a holy man to come into his house. But he believes that with his divine authority Jesus’ prayer will definitely bring divine healings upon his child.
Personally, I am always amazed each time I contemplate this episode of faith. Jesus himself, Scriptures says was amazed, to the extents that he proclaimed, “Not even in Israel have I found such faith” of the Centurion. It was an extraordinary faith. It was a combination of faith and humility breaking social barriers between the Jews and the Gentiles.
We need this faith in our daily lives today. We need it when we are ill. We need it when we lose our jobs. We need it when you lose our loved ones. We need when we encounter discrimination may be because of our gender, faith, language, color or religion. We need it when we are faced with social injustice. We need it when we are ageing; sometimes we are not able to do those we used to by ourselves. We need it when we experience frustration of any kind. We need when we are struggling to do away with any bad habits. We need to love our neighbors and to overcome any barriers that stand on our way of being in Good relationship with Jesus and our neighbors.
We need it at this celebration, especially when we shall repeat these words of the Centurion, “Lord I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, but say the words and my soul and body shall be healed.”
Peace be with you