The story of the centurion and his encounter with Jesus is one of those popular stories that do appear in the gospel almost two to three times a year. In our previous reflections on the Centurion, we have talked about the need to have faith, faith in God and Six things that gladden the heart of God.
In today’s reflection, we have to take another dimension of the life of the Centurion on Goodness. From the narrative that we shall hear from Luke, what initiated the healing of the servant today certainly was how good and generous the centurion is.
It is his generosity that began the healing story in today’s gospel. From today’s gospel, we can be certain that It is good to be good. Goodness rewards.
One special thing about goodness is that we do not know what tomorrow brings. When you want to do good, do it for the sake of God or for the sake of doing it. Every good act that we do without selfish interest comes with a reward you may not expect.
Henry David Thoreau Walden in the Book Higher laws says that Goodness is the only investment that never fails. Benjamin Franklin says that it pays to be good. Goodness can do what beauty cannot do.
It is goodness that led the angels to promise Abraham a child in Genesis 18. Abraham saw them and decided to feed them without knowing they were angels. Therefore, goodness is a weapon that conquers both the physical and the spiritual, says a great saint. When you are simply good, what you do talks about you and even protects you without knowing. It pays to be good, Goodness rewards a lot.
What is Goodness?
Goodness has been defined with many words. But what is important is that goodness is when what we do is life-saving. It is always defined in our relationship with others.
So, goodness can be equated with kindness, generosity, love, moral excellence and quality service. Whenever what we do for others is satisfying to the soul and life saving, then it can be termed to be good. Goodness rewards. Heaven is also only for Good people. Let us live our lives with the hunger to do good.
What We Learn from the Centurion.
When Jesus entered Capernaum, A centurion heard that Jesus was in town. He saw this as a great opportunity for the healing of His servant and never wished to miss it. He sends some Jewish elders to Him to ask Him to come and heal his servant.
1. The first point we have to notice in this encounter is the eagerness by this centurion to find healing for an ordinary servant. In one of his statements, he said “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”. This statement shows His elevated authority.
He would have faced other engagements he had rather than to seek healing for an ordinary servant who is not even his son.
In Matthew’s account in Matthew 8:5-13, the centurion came by himself to plead on behalf of the servant. But Luke says He sends some people to ask on His behalf. Whichever way it happens, what we can see here is a man who is good and down to earth.
The centurion teaches us that no matter our positions in life, do not forget those who are suffering around us. Be good to the poor, the orphans, the widow and the needy. Goodness rewards. Wherever we are and whatever we are today, God made it possible.
2. Secondly, when the centurion 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 Jesus. Listen to what the elders said. They said:
‘He deserves this of you they said ‘because he is friendly towards our people; in fact, he is the one who built the synagogue.’
From this statement, one could easily decipher that the centurion is not jew. His nationality was not given in the bible but he is not a jew. What this request suggests is that this man is a benefactor to the Jewish community.
A centurion is an officer in the Roman army. They got their name as centurions because they command a centuria which consists of 100 soldier men. This is the reason He tells Jesus that many people are under His authority.
So, from this one can conclude that He is part of the Roman army and an official among them army and being a part of the Roman army and within the time the jews are under the Roman domination, there is a sign that He must be a Roman.
Some scholars suggested that when this happened there were no Roman forces in Galilee. That he may be one of the royal troops of Herod Antipas, who were appointed by Rome to provide Rome with military support.
Despite these, at least we are certain that He is a high ranked official and still from every indication, He is from Rome.
So, notwithstanding that He is not a jew, He was a benefactor to the Jewish community to the extent of building a synagogue for them. And today is His turn to seek help.
The people, the elders of the Jews did not disappoint. They begged Jesus seriously to attend to him because of how good the man is to them.
Because of this, Jesus decided to go and heal the child until the Centurion requests that He is not worthy to receive Jesus into His roof, which is another sign of humility.
If it is today, many would even use that avenue to make a lot of money. Many will use it to show off, to let people know that even a prominent person visited the house. The faith, humility, kindness and goodness of this man are top-notch. We have to emulate Him.
Therefore we have to be good, humble and generous. When we have a little opportunity to put up a smile on the faces of people, do not relent.
When you have the opportunity to save lives, never go back to that. Also, when you are better off people who are around you, be a light to them. This is what we call Christianity.
It pays to be good, Goodness rewards a lot. The life of a good man can touch many souls. The single goodness that we do, may change a hardened soul.
We can see how the jews were begging on behalf of a Roman. Not just jews but elders.
Despite that He is not one of them, the man supports them. What the man does for them was the key to His cordial relationship with the people.
The centurion teaches us that Goodness is not only for those who are close or related to us. Goodness is for everyone we come in contact with.
The encounter today, also teaches us that Goodness can bring us grace and healing. It can even bring you luck.
The goodness of this man motivated Jesus to go to His house and heal the servant. Goodness rewards in a way we may not even expect. So, whenever you have a chance to do good, do not say no.
Finally, the encounter today teaches us that one good turn deserves another. What the man did for the jews moved them to plead on His behalf. When you do good to someone you would never know what may come of it. It may not necessarily come from the person. It may come from another way.
Goodness can bring luck and answer to our secret prayers. In 1 Kings 17, what the widow of Zarephath did for Elijah led to a great miracle in the life of the woman.
Goodness rewards, whether people appreciate it or not. Also, when we do good, we prepare our way for eternal life. Heaven is for those who lived a good life.
Therefore, Goodness can reward both earthly, eternally and spiritually. Goodness can even improve your health. You feel good whenever you do good and it helps the body a lot. So, Let us always be good.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to be good always. May every good deed that we do, prepare our journey to eternity. Amen