Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – 2020

My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!

Nothing can compare with the strength of a pure faith. A person who believes rightly has great boldness towards God, and those who approach Him with such a boldness will obtain every beneficial thing that they ask. The sciptures attest that the righteous live in faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of a centurion who came to the Lord with undoubting faith. Not only was there a miraculous healing wrought by the Lord for the sake of centurion’s faith, but the Lord Himself gave public testimony before all concerning the great faith of the centurion.

We hear: “At that time: when Jesus had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented.”

The centurion did not say, Lord, come quickly, nor did he say, Heal my servant; he simply presented the situation with great respect and great faith.

The Lord responds, “I will come and heal him,” anticipating the request even before it was asked, promising to go unto the house of the centurion and to heal his servant. But the centurion responded, “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.”

The centurion says “only say the word,” for he recognized the Lord as a Master, One Who possesses and is able to give, One Who orders and it is done. For as the centurion says: “I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

From his own experience the centurion draws an analogy of how Christ is able to do things by a word alone.

“And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.”

Our Lord marvelled, for though the centurion was not an Israelite, nor did he know the Scriptures which told of our Lord, the centurion came to faith so readily. And not only does our Lord marvel, but He also proclaims the faith of the centurion, that others too might imitate him.

For as our Lord attests, many others such as this centurion will come from the east and west and will believe in the Lord, and they will repose in the bosom of Abraham. And so it has come to pass. For besides the Israelites who believed after the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, there have been countless Gentiles who believed and who have taken their places with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the heavenly kingdom.

“But the children of the kingdom,” the Lord continues,”shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

As for those who imagine themselves to be the children of the kingdom on account of earthly inheritance, because of fleshly descent from Abraham, but do not in fact have faith, they will fall away from the heavenly kingdom, fall away from their lot with the patriarchs and the just. While the Lord spoke of the blessings in store for the faithful, He also said that unbelievers will encounter evil things in the future; on account of their deliberate unbelief and their chosen self-blindness, they are driven out and cast into the outer darkness.

“And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.”

The very same hour. As the Divine Physician of souls and bodies, our Lord Jesus Christ even today, this very hour, wishes to show in us His many mercies and graces, and to remove and cleanse the illness of sin from us. Though our souls be made lame, crippled, even nigh to death on account of our many sins, let us like the centurion come before the Lord with faith. The Lord knows better than we ever could what is necessary and profitable for us.

If we cannot find the words, if we do not know what to ask for, then let us simply do as the centurion did. The centurion did not come with high speech, he did not even make any requests. He simply placed the situation in the hands of the Lord.

Do the same thing. Lay it open for Him. The Lord will make the determination, as He did in today’s Gospel. The Lord, being compassionate, will extend His hand to help. He will come and heal you, and will raise you up from sin. He will teach you to walk in the way of His divine commandments. He will strengthen you to be able daily to pick up your cross, to follow Him, to walk along the sure path of His heavenly kingdom.

With but a word of His all-powerful voice even today He delivers from wrath, affliction, and captivity. He gives peace and comfort to all those who suffer. He heals all those who in faith come before Him.

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