Friday, October 5, 2012

The Outsider Gets It

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.… And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.  (Matthew 8:8-10, 13)

But I ask you to take note how [the centurion] signified that Christ is able both to overcome even death as a slave, and to command it as its master.  For in saying, “come, and he comes,” and “go, and he goes,” he expresses this: “If You should command his end not to come upon him, it will not come.”

Do you see how he believed?  For that which was afterwards manifest to all—that He has power both of death and of life, and leads down to the gates of hell, and brings up again—here is already made evident by the centurion.… But nevertheless, though having such great faith, he still accounted himself to be unworthy.  Christ however, signifying that he was worthy to have Him enter into his house, did much greater things, marveling at him, and acclaiming him, and giving more than he had asked.  For he came indeed seeking for his servant bodily health, but went away, having received a kingdom.  Do you see how the saying had been already fulfilled, “Seek the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added unto you.”*  For, because he showed great faith, and lowliness of mind, He both gave him heaven, and added unto him health.

And not by this alone did He honor him, but also by signifying upon whose casting out he is brought in.  For now from this time forth He proceeds to make known to all, that salvation is by faith, not by works of the law.  And this is why not to Jews only, but to Gentiles also the gift so given shall be proffered, and to the latter rather than to the former.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew, 26.4-5

* Matthew 6:33

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