Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
The story of the Roman centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant has two characteristics that I think we cannot overlook.
The first concerns precisely the empathy that this soldier has for one of his servants. This is not something taken for granted. He is not indifferent to the suffering of this person, even though culturally he wasn’t considered his equal: “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
The centurion doesn’t ask for himself but intercedes for another by giving voice to a person who’s suffering so much that he himself cannot formulate a prayer. I’ve always been struck by this form of gentleness. It reminds me that every time we pray, we should be a voice for those who for one reason or another are unable to speak for themselves.
The second characteristic is the unconditional trust he places in Jesus:
“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 man 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.”
Basically, the centurion is saying to Jesus, “I trust you so much that it doesn’t matter if I know or see how you’ll fulfill this prayer of mine; I only know that you’ll take this person’s pain to heart.” Jesus is astounded at such faith: “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.’”
Today’s Gospel asks us about precisely these two things: How much do we intercede for others? And how much do we really trust?
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.