The Meaning of Faith

When Jesus 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 man 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.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

(Matthew 8:5-17)

Scripture Study

8:5 centurion: A Roman military commander of 100 soldiers. Emphasis falls on his ethnic identity as a Gentile who has faith in Jesus (8:10). According to Luke, he was favorable to the Jewish nation and responsible for building a synagogue in Capernaum (Lk 7:5).

8:8 Lord, I am not worthy: Demonstrates great faith and humility. Jesus “marveled” (8:10) that such virtue was displayed by a Gentile. ● These words are adapted for use in the Roman liturgy. Unworthy to receive the Eucharist, Christians ask to be cleansed of personal faults and place their faith in the healing power of God’s word (CCC 1386).

8:11 sit at table: Alludes to an OT promise of a great feast to accompany the messianic age (Is 25:6–9).  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: Jesus hints at the universal spread of the gospel to all nations in the Church (28:19). ● These OT patriarchs are linked with God’s covenant oath to Abraham that all nations would eventually share his blessings (Gen 22:18; CCC 543). The covenant was renewed with Isaac (Gen 26:3–5) and Jacob (Gen 28:14).

8:12 weep and gnash their teeth: Describes the pangs of the damned excluded from the heavenly banquet (22:13). ● Similar language in the OT portrays the wicked who slander the righteous with hatred and disgust (Job 16:9; Ps 37:12; 112:10).

8:17 He took our infirmities: A formula quotation from Is 53:4. Jesus fulfills this role by physical healings. Peter evokes the same OT context to speak also of Jesus’ spiritual healing of sinners (1 Pet 2:24–25; cf. Is 53:5–6). ● Isaiah foretold of a Servant figure who would take Israel’s sins upon himself and heal God’s people (Is 52:13–53:12). This Servant would inaugurate the restoration of the tribes of Israel and bring the Gentiles to the family of God (Is 49:6). Matthew sees Jesus in this role, ushering in the kingdom by expelling demons and healing diseases. The close relationship between sin and physical affliction is assumed (cf. Ps 107:17; Is 33:24; CCC 1505).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today in our Gospel Jesus praises the faith of a Roman centurion. How often the Bible compels us to meditate on the meaning of faith! We might say that the Scriptures rest upon faith and remain inspired at every turn by the spirit of faith.

One of the most fundamental statements of Christian faith is this: your life is not about you. This is not your project. Rather, you are part of God’s great design. To believe this in your bones and to act accordingly is to have faith. When we operate out of this transformed vision, amazing things can happen, for we have surrendered to “a power already at work in us that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”

This is precisely what we see in the lives of the saints: Mother Teresa moving into the worst slum in the world in an attitude of trust; Francis of Assisi just abandoning everything and living for God; Rose Hawthorn deciding to take cancer sufferers into her own home; Antony leaving everything behind and going into the desert; Maximilian Kolbe saying, “I’m a Catholic priest; take me in his place.” This is how faith transforms the Christian life.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.