The Son of God was amazed at a mere human being. What was it about the centurion’s response to him that so grabbed Our Lord’s attention? After all, the centurion was only telling Jesus about how authority and obedience worked in his professional life: if you’re in charge and you tell someone to do something, they do it.
What struck Jesus about the centurion was his simple yet strong faith: “Not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Luke 7:9). The Early Church was so moved by the centurion’s response that it immortalised his words in the Liturgy to help us all prepare to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.
So what can we learn from this first-century Roman soldier? How about humble confidence. In every generation, humble confidence has been the bait used by saints in order to win Our Lord’s heart. Just think about the ‘good thief’ on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)—a life of crime and sin, then a few minutes before dying, one simple prayer wins him redemption.
Throughout the gospels we see people whose lives warranted judgement receiving mercy and healing instead. And this should give us great hope. After all, if a thief, or a prostitute, or a crooked government official could steal Our Lord’s heart, why should we ever think he would reject us? As the centurion shows, Our Lord needs only our humility and confidence to work marvels of healing, purification, and restoration. He needs only to hear us echo this humble man’s prayer, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed” (Luke 7:6-7).