In today’s Gospel reading a Gentile military officer appeals to Jesus, a Jewish healer, on behalf of a servant. A group of Jewish elders supports his request. Jesus readily sets out to grant it. The centurion suggests that he do so from a distance, thus sparing himself both the journey and the necessity of entering a pagan household. Jesus expresses gratified amazement at the man’s faith in Him. Caring, compassion and mutual respect characterize the actions of all the persons in this scene, diverse as they are in religion, ethnicity, and social status.
What a contrast to the selfishness, jockeying for position, and callousness toward the poor exhibited by the Corinthian Christians! And these attitudes are being expressed in the very act of coming together, supposedly to celebrate their unity in Christ, their participation in the salvation He has purchased for them through the sacrifice of his body and blood. It does not take much discernment to decide which reading provides a truer picture of people who act as citizens of the Kingdom Jesus preached. For ourselves, the contrast between the two groups can serve as a yardstick by which to measure our own actions and attitudes and those of our communities against the ideal.
- Sr. Mary O’Brien, C.P.