Luke 7:1-10 Risk
“Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again!” (1Cor 11:26b) Is this not the most bizarre proclamation? Why does the Church ask us to proclaim the death of Christ until he comes again? Why does St. Paul preach “Christ crucified” in which he knows perfectly well is a scandal for the Jews and foolishness for the Gentiles. Why? Because deep within the wood of the cross do we find the love of God for us. WE ARE SINNERS!
While speaking to someone today in spiritual direction, a man made a very good observation. He told me that when he goes to the English speaking Mass, almost everyone receives communion. When he goes to the Spanish speaking Mass, almost no one receives communion. Why is it? His answer was “ignorance.” My answer was “culture.” We Americans feel entitled to everything. We believe we should get whatever is available to us. Why shouldn’t I receive Communion today? It’s being handed to me! But in reality, we deserve nothing!
A centurion had a slave. He was valuable to him. Some elders approached Jesus and told him that the centurion “deserves to have you do this for him.” You see…he has helped us build a nice synagogue. He is a major player! He is great benefactor! You help me, I help you. You scratch my back, I scratch your back. Got it? But if we have learned anything from Christ, it is precisely this: He doesn’t count the cost. He doesn’t heal the ill slave because he was valuable to its owner nor does he help the owner because he helped the people of Israel. He heals the servant and converts the sinner because they are both in a miserable condition. They all need a Savior. We all need a Savior! We are all dead to sin. What make the words and deeds of the centurion special, remembered throughout the world in the liturgy of the Mass, are his humility and his willingness to risk it all: his reputation, his position, his honor.
“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Who am I to complain to the Lord? From the very beginning of salvation history the Lord chose his people, elected them, prepared them and allowed them to escape from the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. The Lord did everything! The Jews did nothing, except what the Lord commanded. “Go here, and he goes; Come here, and he comes.” The centurion understood this well. Authority is to be respected. For this reason, Christ said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” This Gentile abstains from stepping onto sacred ground. He abstains from receiving the Lord for he knows he is unworthy of the Lord. He respected the Laws of Israel and their customs, especially in regard to the treatment of Gentiles. He does not go to the Lord because he does not presume anything. He goes to the Lord with a meek and humble heart, and because of this, he receives the fruits of his faith. He receives the health of his slave and recognition from the Lord. Christ does not enjoy the company of those who boast in his name, and neither do we.
Lord, I am truly unworthy to receive you. My life has been a life of taking more than of giving. Jesus meek and humble of heart! Heal and open my heart to be more like your heart! Amen.
Being vulnerable to the Lord may appear risky at times. But it is definitely a risk worth taking. It is only then that the miracles begin.