Today we honour the memory of Saint Oliver Plunkett – the last Catholic to be martyred at Tyburn on 1st July 1681. At a kangaroo court in London, the Archbishop of Armagh was found guilty of high treason “for promoting the Catholic Faith” and he was condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. The feasts of the Apostles and martyrs we celebrate remind us that the Catholic Church is built on the witness of the Apostles and the blood of the martyrs.
With only a word, Our Lord healed the centurion’s servant. By simply taking her hand, Our Lord healed Peter’s mother-in-law. All it took was some mud, and Our Lord was able to heal a man who had been born blind. God so wants to heal his people and be in a close relationship with us that we need only come to him. To move toward him in even the slightest degree is enough for him to shower his love and mercy upon us.
Recognizing the authority of the One he approached, the centurion expected to receive what he requested. When Our Lord expressed his willingness to go with him and heal his servant, the centurion replied: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). Having asked, he believed; he needed nothing more. We echo these words of the pagan centurion every time we prepare to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion; it is our affirmation that we will receive what we ask for.
When we ask, we need only believe that we will receive. And when we ask, we must recognize—like the centurion—who it is we are asking. As the Lord of all creation, Jesus has authority and power to heal the sick and restore anyone who comes to him. The centurion wasn’t even a Jew, yet he recognized Our Lord’s authority and in humility came to him. Our Lord was so impressed with the man’s disposition that he remarked: “In no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Matthew 8:10). From this we learn that no one is excluded from the Divine Mercy, not even those we may consider our enemies.
And so, let us all come to God with the same uncomplicated faith of the centurion. Let us come with humility and childlike trust to our merciful Father who wants to heal us according to his wisdom, his timing, and his provision.