4th Sunday after Pentecost, June 12, 2016. Mt 8:5-13

The Church continues to unfold the pursuit of the Christian life, this week presenting to us the theme of faith – the kind of faith that sets no conditions, but trusts God completely.

Last week, Jesus told us not to be anxious about our material needs, but to seek first the kingdom of God. Since we are to rely on God to provide for us as he does the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, it can be very tempting for us to keep asking God for all sorts of things that we think we need.

The centurion in today’s Gospel simply stated a fact, “my serving boy is at home in bed paralyzed, suffering painfully.”

He did not tell Jesus to cure his servant. He did not ask Jesus to come to his home. He left the course of action entirely up to Jesus.

How often do we pray with that kind of trust and acceptance of God’s ways in our lives as the Centurion did? Do we ever just state the facts of our situation?
I imagine that the usual approach is to give clear and specific instructions to God for how he is to handle any given situation. Our prayers tell God exactly what to do and when to do it, even giving him deadlines. No wonder Jesus praises the centurion’s faith.

Faith is usually understood as believing a set of propositions or dogmas about God.  The Greek word used in the Gospel includes a spirit of trust and confidence in a person.  Because of that trust and confidence, one believes what the person says.

Faith in God means a trust and confidence in him and then, because of that trust and confidence, acceptance of God’s revelation to us about himself.

The centurion had every trust and confidence that Jesus would do whatever was best, even if it weren’t what the centurion had hoped for.

Do we have that same trust and confidence in God’s providential care that we can embrace whatever happens in our lives knowing that God does not wish evil upon us, but can bring good from the evil that naturally occurs in all of our lives?

Do we seek first the kingdom of God
and know that whatever difficulties we experience in this life, our life in God’s kingdom is more important?

We should thank God every day for all that he does for us, even if we didn’t notice anything in particular. We do this because we so often don’t realize all of the good that God is doing for us.

God sees our lives with total objectivity and in the light of eternity. We are subjective and often feel that our will is the same as God’s will; that our ways are naturally God’s ways. It is very difficult, if not impossible, for us to see our lives in the light of eternity.

Yes, God knows what we need and how best to provide it for us, even, at times, in spite of ourselves. God always acts in our best interests.

In order for us to be able to accept God’s action in our lives, though, we need that other attitude of the centurion – humility.  “Lord, I am not worthy…”

It is this humility that will cause us to say, “Lord, I don’t understand what you are doing in my life, or  why you are doing it, but I do know that you want me to be happy; that you want the best for me. Because of this trust and confidence in you, I will remain faithful to prayer, to a life of Christian virtue, to a life of committed Christianity. I won’t give up when times become so difficult that I feel I just can’t take anymore. I know that you are there in the midst of the storm and, in my humility, I know that I don’t understand your ways. They are inscrutable.

Perhaps you were taught to end your prayers by saying, “Not my will but thine be done.” When Jesus prayed these words to his Father, he truly meant them.  But how often do we really mean them?  Isn’t it more often the case that we want God to do our will and then say that if this isn’t what God wants, well then, we’ll do our best to take it in stride and put up with the situation?

Praying that God’s will be done first requires that we seek to know God’s will before we ask him to do something in our lives. This is having trust and confidence that God will gradually reveal his will to us; that he will give us the grace to want the same thing for ourselves as God wants for us; that he will give us the strength to live our lives according to his plan; that we will have the humility to know that God’s ways are better than our own, no matter how inscrutable they may be.

And when we cannot fathom God’s will, well, then, we just trust him anyway and do our best.


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