Thursday, May 30, 2013
So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends to say to him, 'Sir, do not put yourself to any trouble because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and that is why I did not presume to come to you myself; let my boy be cured by your giving the word. For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man, "Go," and he goes; to another, "Come here," and he comes; to my servant, "Do this," and he does it.' When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, 'I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith as great as this.' And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.
This story is either a club to beat ourselves with or an invitation to hope and life, love and trust. We can wallow in guilt for our poor, weak faith, or we can choose the invitation.
I choose the invitation to life and love. Here goes.
I have no idea what happened to the centurion who sought healing for his servant. There is no reference to whether he became a disciple or simply lived out his life following orders, until he retired someplace quiet and tried to enjoy the rest of his life.
Whatever happened to him he lived at least one perfect moment when he epitomized what it means to be truly human and blessed. For one moment he trusted that there is a Love loose in the world that hungers to heal what is most broken in us--our hearts and hopes, our fears and losses.
For one moment he truly trusted the Presence of that Love and sent his petty anxieties packing because he knew that Love would bless him and the one for whom his heart hungered.
For one moment he revealed the simple trust to which Love invites us.
It was a moment of rare beauty he may have known but once. But in that moment, his words of total trust in Jesus, as the Word of Love, show us the life God wants for us.
There is a Love who hungers for my wholeness … and yours, a Love who hungers for you to be whole and happy, fulfilled and joyful, free and at peace.
We call that Love ‘God’ in our tradition, and the centurion certainly thought he saw the walking, talking presence of that Love in Jesus.
This Love cannot be confined to any one time, place or person, of course. That is what the Resurrection means. It is always present and real, alive and active.
It’s hard to believe this sometimes, perhaps all the time.
Everyday crises are at hand, at least in my work. There are people who are dying despite their determined, brave, noble fight against incurable disease. Others face money problems, failing marriages or the simple disappointments of not getting what you want and may rightly deserve.
We can either stew in our juices, picking at our wounds or decide to live … this day … now; trusting the Love that is present will meet us on our way, amid the day, although we may not always recognize its disguises.
It will be there. I should say, the Christ, the Love … is there … every moment. So every moment, or at the very least once each morning, pray the centurion’s prayer, “Say the word, Precious Love; say the word and heal this aching soul. I know you can.”
Pr. David L. Miller