Luke 7:1-10 For Whatever Reason
A centurion had a slave who was ill and about to die…When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them.
He deserves to have you do this for him. The elders approached Jesus and strongly urged him to help this man out. But why? Why were they so insistent on a centurion getting help? St. Luke leaves no room for doubt. It is clear: The elders sought the Lord’s help because the centurion had helped them out. He had built their synagogue; he had power; he had money; he had authority; he had friends in high places.
But none of these reasons account for the reason why the Lord helped his man out (let alone the elders). He helped them out for the same exact reason why he helps us out: For no reason.
Do I have to have a reason for being kind to someone? Do I have to have a reason for loving someone? Do I have to have a reason to stay in touch with someone? Do I have to have a reason to help someone?
Woe to you, hypocrite…if you help someone for selfish or prideful reasons! Woe to you, you pagan…if you only help those who help you. Woe to you, you Pharisee, if you only speak to those who agree with you! It is better for you to have no reason at all than all the reasons in the world!
In today’s Gospel, I can see how reason can get in the way of faith; how it can set-up a road block, a barrier or a wall that separates me from another. If I must always have a reason to show my love, give my time and my attention, then I allow my heart to be conquered by my brain. But my love was never meant to be held hostage by what is physical; nor was it ever meant to be limited by another. Love was created to be an extension of His hands, His works, His words, His heart, His mission! Love was never created to be chained to a reason; it was created to be unlimited as well as unconditional. The world was not created out of necessity. It was created out of no necessity. I was not given life because I was necessary. I was given life out of no necessity. Love is to be given freely. Cost whatever it costs. Love was given without charge to be given away without cost.
Love overflows. This explains why the Lord reacted the way He always did. His reaction explains the reason why we should always get involved: for no reason at all. The beauty of Christian love lies in the power it has to push wide open the doors of our reason and allow each and every one of us to penetrate the mystery of faith.
Just say the word and my servant shall be healed. The centurion’s response to Christ’s love created a challenge (or problem) for all of us. Do I have the faith that he had? Do I appreciate and esteem God’s authority? Do I demand that God meet me half-way? Do I need to have a say in everything?
We love to be the one in charge. We love to be the one who has all the authority. We want to be the ones who set the rules. We want to able to define the rules whenever we want. We like things done our way. We want people to bend over backwards for us. But the centurion understands authority very well. He knows he commands one hundred men. But he also knows he’s not God. He knows and respects that he is under the Lord’s authority.
This truth may be difficult for us, but it should be obvious to all of us. To walk I must roll out of bed, stand on my feet and move one foot in front of the other. There’s no way around it. It is what it is.
The same holds true for being a Christian. If you wish to be blessed, then you must pick up your cross, carry your cross and follow the Lord in his footsteps. There’s no way around it. It is what it is.
And in this case, it is what it is for a very good reason!