The Centurion’s Servant

Father Girardey calls our attention to a second narrative, The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant (Matt 8:5-13; Luke 7:2-10): “The servant of a centurion who was dear to him, being sick, was about to die. When the centurion had heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the ancients of the Jews, desiring Him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they besought Him earnestly, saying to Him: He is worthy that Thou shouldst do this to him, for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. And Jesus said: I will come and heal him. And Jesus went with them. And when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent his friends to say to Him in his name: Lord, trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof. For which cause neither did I think myself worthy to come to Thee; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. . . . And they who were sent, having returned to the house, found the servant whole (well) who had been sick.”

Father Girardey says of the centurion: “He seems to have been a very worthy man, kind and generous to the Jews, a conquered people, and to their religion, as well as a model officer and master full of a kind charity towards his soldiers and subordinates and servant. His first request to Jesus through the ancients of the Jews and his second through special messengers prove him to have possessed faith and confidence in Jesus in a very high degree joined to a humility until then unparalleled. He did not consider himself, a pagan, to be worthy to approach and speak to Jesus or to have Him enter his house and be honored with His presence therein. He showed his extraordinary faith in the power of Jesus, in expressing his belief that Jesus could cure his servant with a single word or act of His will, without either seeing or approaching the servant. . . . His great confidence in the power and goodness of Jesus is clearly apparent from his request to Jesus to heal his servant who, being at the point of death was beyond all hope of cure.”

“His petition for the cure of his servant should serve as a model for our petitions to God. As he considered his prayer for the cure of his servant a matter of great importance to both himself and his servant, he strengthened it by availing himself of the intercession of the chief Jews of the city, whom he believed to possess some influence over Jesus. In like manner, whenever we have some important petition or favor to ask of God, let us call in the saints, who are God’s friends and favorites, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, ‘the Mother of our Lord,’ to intercede for us by their prayers in our favor. In the second place, let us always pray with a great faith in God’s power, a firm confidence in Him who is goodness itself and our most loving Father and Benefactor, and especially with a deep and sincere humility like that of the centurion.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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