Gospel: Matthew 8:5-13
When he 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.”
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. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.
Saint Matthew, in telling us of the Centurion speaking to Jesus Christ in behalf of his sick servant, presents us with many precepts necessary and useful at all times, but particularly applicable to the present season: thus the Centurion beseeching Christ in behalf of his sick servant, is an admirable representation of a penitent sinner desiring to be reconciled to God. We are all sinners, and the Church, who earnestly desires we should become sincere penitents, now invites us to go to Jesus Christ, and beseech him in behalf of our souls, grievously afflicted with the palsy of sin; and for our encouragement, and assurance of success, she lays before us the example of this Roman officer, who, as soon as he had heard that Jesus was come to Capharnaum, immediately went to him, and laid open to him the necessity of his domestic, saying: “Lord, my servant lies at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented.” In like manner, if we desire to recover the health of our souls, afflicted and dangerously ill under the pressure of evil habits and vicious customs, now is the happy time, since Jesus our spiritual physician is come down to Capharnaum. We have now an opportunity of having recourse to him for our cure: but we must make no delay: let us not then think it a matter, which may be postponed; for if we refuse to go now, we may not have so favorable an opportunity hereafter. When the compassionate Saviour of the world told the Centurion that he would come and heal his servant, he immediately replied: Lord, I am not worthy that thou should enter under my roof. O, excellent spirit of humility, which always renders both ourselves and our petitions acceptable to God, for nothing will sooner prevail with him to grant us mercy and pardon, than an humble acknowledgment of our unworthiness and misery.
“The prayer of the humble shall pierce the clouds” and be heard by him, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Let us humble ourselves in the presence of God, and confess our unworthiness, and say sincerely with the Centurion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. Say but the word and my servant shall be healed.” He reasoned very justly from the condition of life in which he himself was placed, being one of so much authority as to say to his servant, Do this, and it was done, that Christ by his superior power need only to speak, and his word alone would have sufficient efficacy to cure his servant.
Faith and confidence in God are no less necessary than humility: if then we desire to obtain the pardon of our sins, we must firmly believe that God is both able and willing to forgive them: as no sin is greater in the sight of God than despair, we must be careful not to place any obstacle in the way of his mercy by our diffidence; the shield of faith, and a firm confidence in his goodness is our best defense, to which he thus encourages us, saying: “As I live I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live.” “Come unto me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” What greater encouragement can we desire? Let us approach him, at this holy time, with the humility and faith of the Centurion, and with him we shall be accepted. “Go, and as you have believed, be it done unto you; and at the very hour his servant was healed.” O, happy effect of a lively faith! The same will be produced in the souls of those sincere penitents, who, in like manner, have recourse to God; to such he will mercifully say: “Son, be of good heart, your sins are forgiven you.”
O Jesus, Saviour of the world, speak those consoling words to my soul. Dear Lord, behold I am sick and infirm, grievously tormented, and sorely troubled; speak but the word, and I shall be healed. Your power is great, your mercy also is great, you are able and willing to forgive: pardon me then, and deliver me from the heavy burden of my sins. I acknowledge my unworthiness, and have just reason to fear the rigor of your justice, but I will trust in thy infinite goodness. I cannot offend more than you can forgive, and I firmly believe there is no sin so great that you will not pardon it upon a sincere repentance. Say then to me, as you did to the Centurion , “Go, and as you have believed, be it done unto you,” and from that moment having obtained the health of my soul, I will praise and glorify your holy name.
May your holy name be forever blessed, and praised by all creatures, your true and only Physician of souls. May all poor sinners, who, like me, have experienced thy goodness, be grateful to you, and, may I never more abuse your bounty, nor forget the favors you have shown me. Preserve me, dear Lord, from relapsing again into those sins from which you have delivered me. May I daily endeavor to please you, and increase in your love. I desire to love you above all things, and all other things only in and for you. I can only be happy in loving you, and am truly miserable when I do not love you. May your sweet love wholly possess my heart and soul until I come to possess and enjoy you in heaven. Amen.
- Father Pacificus Baker. “Thursday Before the 1st Sunday in Lent”. . CatholicSaints.Info. 1 February 2016. Web. 22 January 2017. <>