Grace to you!
Have you ever received a gift and thought that you were unworthy of it? Have you ever felt undeserving of an award, or an experience that only a few have the privilege to get? Encounter with God’s grace feels somewhat similar.
A couple of thousands of years ago, in the small community of Capernaum, a gentile territory, a Roman army officer (a centurion) in charge of one hundred soldiers had a terrible domestic problem to deal with—one of his own was very sick. Medical help may not have been effective. His experience on the battlefront and military training were insufficient. Though he could command the soldiers to bulldoze a house, pull the trigger, quiet a riot, etc., before this need of his, he was powerless. Incapacitated.
Worse, he was a gentile. As a gentile, he lived with a prejudice against the Jews, or should I say, the Jews against him. For the Jews of the New Testament biblical times, this man was outside of the radius of divine visitation.
In the same neighborhood came a poor, itinerant preacher; at least, so it seemed to many in the area. Certainly, the preacher was without military or political experience or training. He had no elitist clout. No retinue of bodyguards following him. Among his followers were rather the likes of Peter, James and John; mere peasant farmers, fishermen and the common people of the city. His name—Jesus, called the Nazarene.
But the centurion may have heard so many good things about Jesus, including the power of miracles. So, now that Jesus has come to his neighborhood, he must not miss the opportunity. He calls out to Jesus. He doesn’t call him Jesus. He calls him Lord. Remarkable! Reverence! Piety!
Jesus says, “I will come and heal him.” (Matt 8:7).
The centurion feels unworthy to have Jesus come in his house. Maybe, in part, due to his hearts’ disposition, a kind man. He doesn’t want Jesus to violate the custom of the Jews by going to the territory of the Gentiles. Perhaps, in part, because he realized concerning his request, no one merits it. In terms of grace, one’s status in life is inconsequential. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Matt 8:8)
Of course, Jesus responded to his needs. His faith was incredible. His trust and humility were amazing. He is the right candidate for God’s grace.
The centurion’s example is a good start for Day-2 of Advent. Advent is devout appreciation of what has happened for us in Christ. It’s gratitude for God’s grace, as well as expectant delight for what is to come.
God’s grace is unearned favor. No one deserves it. Consider the reality of being introduced into Jesus, or should I say, of being a participant in the God-life in Christ. That’s God’s grace. It’s undeserved.
Any time you go to Mass, after the consecrated bread is lifted and shown to the congregation following the priest’s words, we repeat the same words of the centurion. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say a word and my soul shall be healed?”
Every day we receive communion, I hope we realize, unworthy though we are, we have the privilege of receiving Christ in full; body, blood, soul and divinity. What an amazing grace!
How about this day of advent, we meditate on the above words of the centurion, and appreciate what this grace means for a renewed interest anytime we receive communion?
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.