Only Say the Word
As well as hosting the feast day of St. Andrew, this week we read in Matthew’s gospel about Jesus’ travels into Capernaum and then Galilee, teaching, preaching and healing. A centurion came to Jesus saying that his servant lay in the house paralysed and grievously tormented. When Jesus agreed to heal him, the centurion answered in a way which gave rise to those familiar words we say before receiving our Lord in communion: “Lord, I’m not worthy to receive you under my roof but only say the word and (my servant*) will be healed”. (*my soul)
The healing of the centurion’s servant is a touching story of faith, the strong trust a Gentile soldier had in the Master. Underneath this healing were the strains of brute power and social prejudice. The centurion represented the tangible symbol of imperial oppression (indeed, Roman soldiers were underpaid and so were expected to extort money from those they ruled in order to supplement their income). No wonder the Jews resented such domination by a foreign power in the Promised Land. So the people who witnessed the centurion’s request might have been surprised, even offended.
Yet, Jesus used the request to make a point about faith. God doesn’t play favourites; the Chosen People were no better than the Gentiles. In fact, those of great faith (like the centurion) would enjoy the Kingdom, while those who expected their place before God as a birthright would be sorely disappointed. Trusting in the power of the Lord, not mere reliance on His promise, gains one entrance into the Kingdom. Do we approach God with humility or expectation?
Matthew presented Jesus as the Master, both Teacher and Healer. His mode of teaching the Good News, however, was action. He healed and fed the multitudes with bread and fish. In the food miracle, the number seven was significant; it represented fullness, completion. He blessed seven loaves; His followers collected seven baskets afterwards. Just as He made those with illness whole, He also filled the hungry crowd. Wholeness was the lesson of the Good News and, in response, the people praised God.
Wednesday is the feast day of St. Andrew, a fisherman and an early disciple. Yet, those two facts gloss over the impact this apostle had. According to John 1:40-42, Andrew introduced his brother Simon to Jesus. The gospel seemed to imply he would continue to pass along the Good News by word of mouth (John 6:8). He would bring his friends to meet his friend, Jesus.
Jesus called Andrew and Andrew followed. Jesus calls us not only to Him, He calls us to extend His friendship to others, just like Andrew. How do we invite our friends to meet Jesus?
Copyright ©202 Stedwards Kettering. All rights reserved.