June 25, 2016 – Saturday in the 12th Week of the Church Year
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant/soul will be healed.”
The irony that these words that are so familiar to us were first uttered by a Roman Pagan whose entire life was centered on doing everything possible to maintain the Roman grip on the then-known world. We have to look at what prompted him to “break ranks,” so to speak, in order to save his beloved slave.
When we hear this Gospel up against today’s first reading from the Book of Lamentations we might wonder what the Church was thinking about when it stuck this reading in here. After all, it’s just this one passage. Tomorrow we’ll be reading from Amos. My first thought when I read it was that it well could be a newspaper account of the situations in any number of places around our world where people are suffering under oppression of fanatical military regimes. Our prayer, then, should be that someone – as courageous as this Gospel Centurion – would step forward to alleviate the pain and suffering of those most in need.
We have to give credit to this centurion who’s duty was to carry out Nero’s orders to eliminate the early Christians in a most horrendous massacre. But we can’t just say, “That was then. This is now.” It’s all the same! Maybe the fact that this Gospel gives us one man – a pagan army person – and one sick slave tell us: don’t be put off with the thought, “What can I do when there’s so much evil in the world?” We’re drawn back to St. Francis’ saying: “stone by stone” the work gets done. Just for today try to think of ways in which you might bring some hope and healing to just one person. Forget about the whole world. That just takes away all our hope. What we need here is faith! “… only say the word and it will be done!”