12th Saturday of the Year (26Jun 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
We gain more from reading scripture when we read it as God’s personal invitation to us: an invitation to share more in God’s life; an invitation to transform our lives; an invitation to love Jesus more and follow Jesus more closely.
That point of view helps when scripture presents us with people who differ from us or with people with whom we may have few obvious intersections. Yesterday’s gospel selection presented a leper coming to Jesus. Today’s verses, which follow yesterday’s verses, present us with a centurion.
In Matthew’s Gospel those who were afflicted and those coming to faith in Jesus addressed Jesus as Lord. People who opposed Jesus called him Teacher as well as those who met Jesus but did not follow him. The phrase, “coming to faith in Jesus,” suggest process as well as ongoing commitment.
One may wonder about a centurion, at once a nonbeliever in the God of Moses and an oppressor of the Jewish people. Yet the history of the Jews was marked with God-fearers, people whose actions demonstrated respect for the God of Moses. The centurion in the gospel seems to have been such a one. He may have kept to himself and his household his religious leanings, especially because they may have caused him trouble with the emperor. Yet the Romans were a religious people, who were comfortable with many deities. Did his faith—unlike no other Jesus had witnessed in Israel—evolve and grow?
Reading this brief narrative as a personal invitation from God reminds us fully initiated Catholics that we need to cultivate our faith, help it grow by the sacraments and put it into practice daily. Responding to God’s invitation through Jesus by their Spirit is a lifetime process. Responding to God’s invitation through Jesus by their Spirit is an ongoing commitment. Recommitting ourselves daily to the gospel is challenging. It is also rewarding.
Recalling the rewards we have received offer us new courage to weather the challenges of being disciples. Recalling the rewards we have received by living the gospel helps us to desire a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus and helps us call him Lord more readily and with less embarrassment.
Wiki-image of Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law is in the public domain.