The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8).
After Jesus finishes his Sermon on the Mount, he comes down from the mountain. In the opening of chapter eight, we see two hearts open to God, a leper and a centurion. The centurion may or may not have been a Roman but he certainly was a Gentile. He, a member of an occupying army, was aware of the animosity many Jews felt toward him. Yet he, like the leper, approached Jesus.
Jesus saw in the leper, not revulsion, and in the centurion, not an enemy, but first and foremost, human beings in need, two persons with faith and belief. Reading on we see that Jesus also heals the mother-in-law of Peter and many who are possessed. Jesus reached out to them with a simple touch of his hand, with his healing words and in so doing brought to each of them the healing they sought. Jesus shows us that the kingdom of his Father is open to all who have faith and believe.
We are all wounded by sin and in need of the healing word and touch of Jesus in our lives. Jesus, who is already present to us, is also waiting for us to ask, and open our hearts and minds to him so to be healed, to be transformed by his love and mercy. We, like the centurion, can approach Jesus on behalf of others who are also in need of healing. Let us resist the temptation to judge anyone as unworthy to receive the grace, love, and mercy of Jesus but be willing to see the need of others, be willing to be present, and be of some assistance.
As God brings people into our lives, let us receive them as Jesus did: as fellow human beings, first and foremost, created in his image and likeness, regardless of another’s religious, ethnic, racial, political, social, gender, national, economic, refugee, immigrant, or enemy status. May we be healed from any revulsion, prejudice, or defining others with labels and instead be willing to allow Jesus to reach out through us to share his healing word or extend his healing touch to one another.