As we continue through Matthew, today’s Gospel is the cure of the centurion’s servant. The centurion’s quote is used at Mass after the priest says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The centurion’s response to Jesus’ commitment to come and cure the servant is “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed…”
This response is held up by Jesus as a model of faith. This centurion, not most of the Jewish leadership, demonstrates a faith that includes a very humble dependence on God.
Despite Jesus’ initial mission being to the Jews, we note how he interacted with Gentiles. We also note how miracles were done for Gentiles in the Old Testament. Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Elisha and Naaman the leper. In this Gospel passage, Jesus exclaims that he has not found such faith among those in Israel as in this Roman centurion.
It had to be difficult for the Jewish people, the Chosen People, to see Gentiles being cured by a man claiming to be the Messiah. While Jesus came first to the Jews, he came for the whole world. He came that all might be saved.
If we are an evangelical Church, we must reach out to others. We must be inclusive. Not condoning of any sins but accepting of all people. There is a great temptation for us to become inwardly focused. To become an exclusive club. To be the keepers of the secrets of eternal life. But our goal cannot be to keep others out but to invite others in.
Are we challenged when we see repentant sinners admitted to the Church? Or when they start to become active in the parish? Do we welcome newcomers or see them as threats to our comfortable status quo? Are we jealous when we see priests and parishioners ministering to others? Or do we rejoice as others become included in the life of the parish? Are we even willing to give up our role in a parish ministry if there is someone new who wants to step up? Do we encourage that without withdrawing ourselves in response? Are we willing to step up and serve in a different way ourselves?