In the gospel, there is an interesting story of the centurion (Mathew 8, 5–17) who meets Jesus and requests him to heal his servant. Jesus was ready to go with him and heal the servant. But the centurion spoke of his unworthiness, and uttered a very normal line… “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus’ response only has praise for this man, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” I have never thought of this incident as my favourite passage, but this is a favourite passage of the church. The response of Centurion is uttered every time a mass is celebrated in the Latin Rite.
Why Jesus exhorted his faith so much? There were others too in the gospel who had faith. Jesus said, “no one in Israel has such faith”. If we don’t take it literally too (to say he is in the top of the hierarchy of faith), the faith is highly appreciated and exhorted by Jesus. When Abraham was the father of faith, this centurion is an exemplar of faith in the new testament. Interesting aspects of this man are…
- He was not a follower of Jesus.
- He didn’t become a disciple of Jesus (atleast gospels don’t say so).
- He didn’t become a Christian even after the Pentecost (again Bible don’t say so).
Even today, Jesus might look at several people, and appreciate their faith, their love or their hope. I don’t think that all of them will be Christians. This thought is consoling for some, humbling for others.
Maybe, the parable is an invitation to break our frontiers and to see the Holy Spirit acting in unexpected corners of life and the world.