28 November 2022

Just say the Word

1st Week of Advent (M)

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

The Centurion's faith amazes Jesus. No one in Israel has such faith. No one? Not the priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the Lord's own disciples? This Roman occupier of the Holy City, this worshiper of false gods has faith in an itinerant preacher who claims to be the Son of God? Apparently so. But just what is this faith? What does this Gentile trust in exactly? In refusing Jesus' offer to go to his house and heal his servant, the Centurion says, “...only say the word and my servant will be healed.” He trusts in the power and authority of Christ's word. Just say the word. He doesn't genuflect or light a candle or sacrifice a goat or rattle off a long, convoluted prayer. Just say the word, Lord. Say the word, and he will be healed. He analogizes the power and authority of his own word as a Roman officer to Jesus' power and authority as the Son of God. His orders are carried out. His word is obeyed. And so it is with Christ. The Centurion is acknowledging that Jesus is the author of creation and so has authority over creation's order. Where there is something broken, he can fix it. Where there is disease, he can cure. Where there is sin, he can forgive. Christ has the authority to make right every relationship gone wrong. Father to daughter. Mother to son. Husband to wife. Master to servant. God to Man. In his divine person – out of who he is – Christ can redeem all of creation to its original godly order. The Centurion's trust in his word amazes Jesus. He says, “...in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” If Jesus were to visit Irving, this priory, this 8.00am Mass, could he say the same of you and me? If not, we have 27 days to prepare ourselves to answer the question. We have 27 days to exercise our trust muscles, to prepare for the heavy lifting of his coming again. Will he come again at the end of Advent? We don't know. But we do know that we have this time to work out – to trust, to hope, to love, and to call on his holy name for the right ordering of our lives. If the pagan invader of the Holy City can trust God to heal his servant with a word, then surely you and I can surrender to His will and pray, “Just say the word, Lord. Just say the Word.”  

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