This pericope, extract or section from, Luke 7:1-10, is called The Healing of the Centurion’s Slave. It represents a wonderful picture of collaboration and harmony. The centurion, a gentile – non-Jew, heard that Jesus was near and appealed to Jewish elders to seek out Jesus to invite him to his home to heal his slave. As Jesus was on the way, the centurion apparently had a change of heart, concerned about his sinfulness and did not want to trouble Jesus. He sent his friends to Jesus with the request to heal his slave with his word. Jesus was amazed: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Lk 7:9). The slave was then healed.
Aside from the fact that no one seemed to have a problem with slavery, certainly not uncommon in the Ancient Near East, everyone involved, the centurion, his friends, Jewish elders, and Jesus were all working together to make this healing possible. The centurion actually showed concern, not indifference for his slave, Gentiles and Jews collaborated with one another, and Jesus did not hesitate to answer the request of the centurion, a representative of the Roman occupying army.
This Gospel scene is certainly worth meditating upon. The centurion gave voice, spoke on behalf of his slave. Jesus healed the slave with his Word. We need to use our words to speak up for those who do not have a voice. We need to help people to understand that the unborn are human beings, they are just smaller and more vulnerable than us. But we also need to be more than pro-birth advocates. We need to provide support systems for the parents to care for their children once they are born, and viable alternatives for those that may be contemplating an abortion.
We need to write our bishops and demand that there be accountability and transparency regarding past abuses of children and we need to learn strategies and teach parents and all who volunteer and work with our youth, children, and at-risk adults, how to be empowered so as to be clear with their boundaries and know the warning signs, to protect themselves from predators, within and without of the Church. Those who seek to molest, abuse, and/or lure our youth into human trafficking must no longer have access.
We need to speak up for migrants and immigrants, as well as their children, too many of whom are still separated from their parents. We need to write our congressional representatives to not only protect D.A.C.A – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – recipients, but provide the means and pathways provided such that they may become citizens. People who are fleeing their homes because of war, terrorism, natural disasters, and seeking a better life, need to be welcomed, provided care and support. We can effectively screen people who would seek to cause harm and provide hospitality for those needing refuge and a new life. Our legal system needs to be reformed such that it no longer disproportionally targets people of color, even to the point of innocent people losing their lives, whether on the street or through capital punishment.
As the centurion spoke up for his servant who was ill and in need of healing, we need to be aware of those in need, hear their stories, and speak up for those who have been abused within and without of the Church, those who have suffered the indignity of physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse. We need to hold those accountable who have misused their power, as well as those who have manipulated the gift of trust misplaced.
There are so many people that are not treated with dignity, the unborn as well as born. So many people who are treated less than human because of race, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and/or land of birth. We all fall woefully short of the harmony and collaboration witnessed in today’s Gospel account. Yet, we need not lose hope.
We need to resist despair, apathy, and indifference, and instead, keep our ears, eyes, and hearts open to hear the cry of the vulnerable among us. We must be willing to see each other as people created in the image and likeness of God, treat those we encounter with dignity and respect that each of us deserve and be willing to collaborate and work together for the good of all people in little ways with great love today as Jesus did, one person at a time.