Today’s Gospel reading is one of my absolute favorite New Testament accounts. You know the one. Jesus is approached by a Roman Centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant. Everyone agrees that this Soldier is a good man and so Jesus says he will go with this ‘enemy of the people’ to do as he asks.
But the humility and the wisdom (the faith) of the Centurion are on full display when he tells Jesus that coming to his home is not necessary. For this military leader knows how giving orders should work. I tell a subordinate what to do and he does it. So, too, can Jesus heal a man from afar. Jesus’ word is enough to make things happen!
And, of course, we know this is true. Think of the story of Jesus calming the storm while he and his disciples are in a boat being tossed about by the waves. “Be quiet!” It’s all Jesus has to say and the winds die down. “Lazarus, come out!” And out the man who had lain in a tomb for 2 days comes.
“Leave him,” Jesus tells the demons torturing a helpless man, and they come out screaming and flying into a herd of pigs only to run off a cliff to their death. Jesus gets results immediately and without a lot of fanfare. A man of few words, He doesn’t have to waste any time with extraneous words and a lot of gyrations. He merely speaks authoritatively. Just like the Centurion speaks to his troops. Speak in your command voice and expect results. When you have the authority and the respect of those who work for you, you can do that.
Jesus has power over sickness and death; Jesus has power over sin. It’s amazing and it’s truly awesome to witness, even 2,000 years later as we sit and read it in the Bible or hear it proclaimed at Mass. Jesus redeemed us all by His own death. He overcame death by His resurrection on Easter Sunday. All power, glory, honor, and praise go to our Triune God.
We are at the very beginning of our Advent season. Let us remember the Jesus who is coming into the world to save us. He starts off as a tiny baby, but He grows to manhood and changes the world. Let’s remember to pray for things we need, good things for ourselves and for family and friends, in Jesus’ name. Let’s remember the faith of the Roman Centurion. And let him be an example to us of how to approach prayers for others. Approach with confidence and expectation that the good things we ask for are on the way. Sometimes we pray anemically; that’s more like a wish than a prayer to a Parent who loves us more than anything.
And what about when we pray with complete expectation and confidence but there is no answer, not the one we wanted? Well, sometimes the answer to our requests is ‘no.’ Sometimes the answer is ‘not now, child.’ And sometimes the answer doesn’t make any sense at all. That’s when we have to trust that God’s got a plan that is infinitely better than anything we could imagine or know. It’s vitally important to remember that we are not home yet. There is a day when ‘every tear will be wiped away’ and will not even be a memory. Cling to that promise.
It means certain hope, it means eternal happiness. Here’s a song about resting in God, even in the ‘why.’ I’ve shared it before, but just in case you’re just joining me, here it is again.