Are you a hero?
A hero is defined as:
- A person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character.
- A person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.
In the Gospel of Matthew 8:5-9, we find two heroes . . .
When he [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 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.”
Our first hero is the Centurion. This man’s faith that Jesus could heal his servant gave him the courage to risk livelihood, reputation, and life. This military commander of one-hundred soldiers, a Roman citizen; a man expected to worship pagan gods and Caesar, sacrificed everything by humbling himself to Jesus of Nazareth and calling him Lord.
Who is the second hero in this story? I discovered who it was during a recent homily. Father asked us, “What made the Centurion seek out Jesus?” The answer that brought a smile to the priest’s face was, “His love for his servant.” “Yes!” said Father.
There had to be something special in achievement, quality or witness in his servant that would cause the Centurion to risk rank, status, and life in hopes of securing a healing. There had to be a nobility of character in this lowly servant that impressed the Centurion. There had to be goodness, kindness, virtue in this servant that inspired the Centurion to love and to courageously act in this love.
I have to wonder if our Lord was speaking of both the Centurion and his servant that, 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” (Matthew 8:10).
We often dismiss ourselves as insignificant. We become discouraged that we are doing nothing of importance in the world. We may have educational degrees and sports trophies from years gone by, but believe we no longer impress or amaze anyone. Our lives seem as nothing but a series of seemingly endless days of household chores, child-rearing duties and work tasks.
Yet this Gospel passage tells a different story.
It is a story of what the Kingdom of God treasures; not power and rank, but rather humility in ourselves and trust in God. We see this in the Centurion’s response to Jesus’ offer to come to his home, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).
In his amazement at the faith of the Centurion and the one who inspired it, Jesus exclaims, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed” (Matthew 8:13).
Following as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must guard against judging the worth of a person based on performance or worldly achievements. The Church lives this way of discipleship. For example, Pope John Paul II wrote in the encyclical, Centesimus Annus, “Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are.”
So, are you a hero?
If you say no and feel like the Centurion – unworthy for God to visit you, have courage! This is a great place to begin your faith journey. May it inspire you to know that it is the words of the Centurion that begin the prayer offered at every Mass right before we welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into our very being at Communion; Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
A favorite saying at Pilgrim Center of Hope is, “You do not have to be perfect to begin anew in Christ.” Let us journey with you!
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.