Monday, First Week of Advent
Today's Gospel contains a line familiar to any regular communicant: "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." Well, except that we have taken out "my servant" and replaced it with "my soul."
What may remain unheard, however, is the "leap" the centurion makes. Here is a man, a member of the military elite, with both soldiers and slaves beneath him. He, like many of us, is accustomed to giving orders and having them obeyed. Beyond the realm of business, just think of the ways we give others orders: giving directions to a taxi driver, ordering coffee to one's specifications, trying on new shoes/clothes, ordering in a restaurant.
In this scene, however, the one accustomed to giving orders now realizes his own powerlessness. Moved by the plight of his paralyzed servant, he approaches Jesus and appeals to him for help.
Fortunately for the servant, he did not have to log into any website or wait to find out if the centurion's plan included him in its coverage. Instead of questioning the status of his insurance, Jesus provides the centurion assurance: "I will come and cure him."
I think it a great temptation, both to those used to being charge and to those more advanced in spiritual development, to think ourselves wholly independent. It's easy to convince ourselves that we are "self-made" and that all we have, all we have earned, we have gotten through our own labor. The centurion's "leap," if we may call it that, was to recognize his own powerlessness to help another. Instead of puffing himself up and blaming others for the plight of his servant, he swallowed his pride and risked a great deal of honor to come to this Jesus fellow, this itinerant preacher, to ask for help.
In our own lives, where do we need to swallow our pride and ask this Jesus for help? Is there someone in our household, someone in our life, or some place in our heart that is "paralyzed, suffering dreadfully"? It may be an addiction, a sense of shame, a long-lasting affliction...it need not matter. Is there a person, or place within ourselves, we know to be broken and in need of healing? Do we dare to ask?