Commentary on the Gospel of
When does one get astonished? When something happens that exceeds one’s expectations. Matthew tells us that Jesus was astonished by the faith of the Gentile Captain. This is in contrast to his astonishment at the lack of faith he found among his own people (cf. Mk 6:6). Can we astonish God by our faith or the lack of it? Evidently we can! If the people of his hometown made a dubious name for themselves by surprising God by their lack of faith, this pagan Captain receives such honour by his astonishing faith that his words have entered our Liturgy!
Why did his faith surprise Jesus? Among the many possible reasons is the opening statement he makes before Jesus. He simply reports to Jesus the actual situation at home. “Sir, my servant lies sick at home. He is paralyzed and suffers terribly.” There is no request for healing or intervention. The Captain makes no demands. He does not insist on his will. In fact, he tells Jesus not to bother about coming all the way to his home as Jesus would have more important responsibilities to do. Instead, he merely presents to Jesus the actual situation, knowing fully well that if Jesus wanted to heal the boy, he could simply do it by willing so, and would not have to do anything laborious cancelling his other works of the day. And, given the Captain’s attitude in the episode, he wouldn’t have minded if Jesus chose not to heal the boy. What the Captain does is to simply let Jesus know the situation and the need, and let Jesus free. Only someone with the deepest faith can do this—being totally open to whatever God wants to do with his life, and let God be God.
How do I pray before God? Do I let God be God?