What is the fundamental mark of a Christian? It is somebody who BELIEVES in Jesus. It is a pastoral concern that in the Catholic Church we have a sacramental system – baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, etc – that for many is detached from believing in Jesus. Receiving sacraments with integrity and sincerity always require belief in Jesus. Otherwise they don’t really make sense and are not truthful and don’t lead to salvation.
Today’s gospel and reflection from the Bishops’ website is about believing in Jesus.
God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son;
everyone who believes in him has eternal life.
The Gospel Luke 7:1-10
Not even in Israel have I found such faith
When Jesus had come to the end of all he wanted the people to hear, he went into Capernaum. A centurion there had a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death. Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus they pleaded earnestly with him. ‘He deserves this of you’ they said ‘because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.’ So Jesus went with them, and was not very far from the house when the centurion sent word to him by some friends:
‘Sir,’ he said ‘do not put yourself to trouble; because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured. 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 like this’. And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Gospel Reflection Monday, Twenty Fourth Week in Ordinary Time Luke 7:1-10
In the time of Jesus, Roman soldiers would have been considered the enemy by most Jews, and Roman soldiers would have considered Jews their enemy. In this morning’s gospel reading we have a Roman centurion, who breaks that mould. He built the local Jewish synagogue, according to the Jewish leaders who approach Jesus on his behalf. What really strikes Jesus about this centurion is his remarkable faith, ‘Not even in Israel have I found faith like this’. The Roman centurion sensed that Jesus, a Jew, might not want to enter the house of a pagan, and so he sent a second delegation to Jesus asking him to heal his servant at a distance, by means of his word, ‘I am not worthy to have you under my roof… but give the word and let my servant be cured’. These words have made their way into our Eucharist. We recite a version of them before we receive Holy Communion. Isn’t it strange that the words of a pagan, of a Roman centurion, should find such a prominent place in our celebration of the Eucharist? Jesus found faith in all kinds of unexpected places. It is the same today. Faith finds expression in all sorts of ways among all sorts of people. Jesus was astonished at the faith of this pagan. The gospel invites us to allow ourselves to be astonished at the depth of faith to be found in unexpected people. The Roman centurion was a religious outsider from the Jewish perspective. Sometimes great faith can be found among those who may not be seen as members of the faith community. The Lord works in mysterious ways in the lives of others. We need to be as open as Jesus was to seeing faith in unexpected people.
The Gospel reflection comes from WEEKDAY REFLECTIONS: To know the love of Christ 2016/2017 by Martin Hogan published by The Messenger c/f www.messenger.ie