When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour his servant was healed. (Matthew 8:5-13)
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:6-11)
How would you answer if someone were to ask you, “Do you have a living active faith?” What if you were going through a difficult situation, how would you answer? Could you say to Jesus, as this pagan centurion did, “only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8)? He certainly had a lot of faith and confidence in Jesus! He loved his servant as a son and was willing to go outside his comfort zone and ask a Jewish rabbi for help. And it was his love and his faith that moved Jesus to commend him so highly.
This man took a very bold step in coming to Jesus. He probably knew there was a good chance he could be rebuffed because he was a Gentile and a member of Rome’s occupying army. But he pushed through his doubts and inner objections, and came to a position of confidence in Jesus’ power: He had the confidence to believe that Jesus only had to speak the word and his servant would be healed.
This is a good example of living, active faith. Every household, every family, every community has some need for Jesus’ healing touch, but it seems so rare that we hear of people praying with the confidence that this centurion had. Somehow, we have accepted the false premise that we should just take life as it comes—the bad with the good—and not expect that when we pray, Jesus can intervene to change a difficult situation.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Our heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Over and over again, Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock (7:7). God’s ways may not always be our ways, but whether we can see it or not, he will act as we pray to him. His response to our prayers may be to use a challenging situation to bring about a healing of relationships or even a dramatic conversion. It may move us to be more compassionate or generous toward others who are sick.
The question of why we don’t always see the healing we ask for is a mystery we will never fully understand until we are with the Lord in Heaven. But as mysterious as it can be, we should never let it keep us from praying for his intervention, whether it be spiritual, emotional, or even physical. We have a good and generous God, and we can be sure that he will act, because of his great love for us!
“Heavenly Father, I ask for a miracle today. I trust that you want to do great things because you love us and want only the best for us. Lord Jesus, I put my faith and trust in your great love for me and all those we are praying for.”
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. The article uses the term, “living, active faith.” How would you define this?
2. The Roman centurion is used as a model of someone with a living, active faith. Where do you think his great faith in Jesus came from? How would you compare your faith to that of the centurion?
3. In the article, we hear these words: “Our heavenly Father wants to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Over and over again, Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock (7:7). God’s ways may not always be our ways, but whether we can see it or not, he will act.” Do you believe God always “acts” when we pray to him? Why or why not?
4. The article ends with these words: “The question of why we don’t always see the healing we ask for is a mystery we will never fully understand until we are with the Lord in Heaven. But as mysterious as it can be, we should never let it keep us from praying for his intervention, whether it be spiritual, emotional, or even physical. We have a good and generous God, and we can be sure that he will act, because of his great love for us!” Share some examples of when God generously answered your prayers.
5. If you are in a men’s group pray for one another for an increase in faith and trust in God’s great love for you, and for a “confidence and living, active faith” when you pray. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.