Luke 7:1-10 — The Message
When he finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. A Roman captain there had a servant who was on his deathbed. He prized him highly and didn’t want to lose him. When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking him to come and heal his servant. They came to Jesus and urged him to do it, saying, “He deserves this. He loves our people. He even built our meeting place.”

Jesus went with them. When he was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell him, “Master, you don’t have to go to all this trouble. I’m not that good a person, you know. I’d be embarrassed for you to come to my house, even embarrassed to come to you in person. Just give the order and my servant will get well. I’m a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.” When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well.

A Matter of Reaching Out

A Matter of Reaching Out

An Outsider’s View
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved
The Roman Captain got it, big time.
This was a Centurion,
a man in charge of 100 soldiers.
When he commanded,
he expected stuff to get done.
The story itself is a device
the writer of Luke
uses to let us know
what Jesus is in charge of,
and what he commands.
The Centurion
commended an army,
commands the forces of life itself.
The Roman Captain
recognized leadership when he saw it.
He trusted
the chain of command
and the strength it sustains,
and because of what he had heard of Jesus,
he overlaid his experience onto Jesus,
and trusted his need to be met.
What do we recognize in Jesus?
What in our experience
recognizes itself in Jesus
when we have a need?
And do we have the
trust, faith, confidence
to give Jesus full rein
to get the job done?
On this Memorial Day weekend we remember
soldiers who understood orders,
who gave up their lifestyles for another way of life,
and for many that meant their entire life.
Today we remember also
our dear loved ones
who have passed on.
As we examine our own hearts we may discover
that they have empty places
where grief
has replaced joy.
What confidence do we have
in this person we know as Jesus?
In the Roman Catholic liturgy
the Captain’s words are echoed,
“Only speak the word and my soul will be healed…”

Many of my educated colleagues, at times including myself,
have developed a cynicism
towards answered prayer.
Many consider
a personal request
to God
for a personal reason
to be more superstition,
more naivete,
than what Jesus might have been about.
Thinking that our
as Christians in the world
have the task to
serve and work to
build and complete
God’s desire for
heaven on earth.
Yet here
is a story a about an outsider
to Jesus’ story
who just took it at face value—
no judgement,
no critical thinking,
even post critical thinking,
no expectation except
that his need be met.
In truth are we all not outsiders?
We can paint educated,
suppositions of what God is about,
but where is the trust,
or the faith,
or the hope
in educated metaphor
if we cannot have a personal request
for a personal need?
Maybe it is time for us to
give ourselves
a little time out,
give ourselves to love,
and recognize the possibility
of actual miracle
and the fulfillment of hope—
for ourselves—personally.

Today as our hearts
ache with our memories
of those fallen,
or lost,
or departed from us,
let us echo the Centurion’s confidence
and speak those powerful words…
“Only speak the word
and my soul will be healed…”


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