Sep. 12, 2016

Can you just be good?

"He deserves this of you, because he is well disposed towards our people; he built us our synagogue himself" (Lk.7:5)

Anyone reading the story of the Centurion would be touched greatly by the quality of his life, such a good man. His servant was sick, then he sent some elders to go on his behalf to invite Jesus to come and cure him. The Centurion sent the elders probably for two reasons. Probably because he needed to keep close eyes on the servant himself. Second, he confessed while Jesus was still on the way, "Sir, do not put yourself to any trouble because I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and that is why I did not presume to come to you myself" (Lk.7:6-7). He didn’t feel big to go by himself. That is humility at work. We notice from the outset that this man is humble by the way he cared for an "ordinary" servant of his. A servant in the Jewish background is a slave with little or no value. His place in the household is very low. So, was the servant a sufficient reason to invite Jesus over? The Centurion contradicts such perception. He not only looks after his servant, but also declares himself unworthy to host Jesus or behold his face.

Furthermore, the Centurion expresses strong faith in the healing power of Jesus. He acknowledges the power in the spoken words of Christ. He is convinced that Jesus can perform miracle even from a distance, "Only say your word, and my boy shall be cured". This is an expression which has remained a reference to the Christo-centric faith till date. As a Centurion, he was not a legitimate heir to God's message of salvation. He is a gentile. That's why his words astonished Jesus, and for that reason he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith as great as this" (Lk.7:9). 

The preceding story presents two dimensions of the Centurion’s life: One is the image of himself which he knows while the other is the image of him which Jesus knows. However, how do these two images of the Centurion tally with the image of him which the people know? Obviously, the Centurion is a man who commands authority as seen in the passage, "For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me". Could these soldiers he commands be the ones he sent to bring Jesus. Is it just a matter of authority that the Centurion commands here? No. The Centurion also commands respect. Hear what the messengers say of him to Jesus, "He deserves this of you, because he is well disposed towards our people" (Lk.7:5). The Centurion is simply a good man. The people respect him, and are ready to give back to him in return for the favors he has given to their community. They are willing to support him because of his humble service.

In life, we need to realize the importance of goodness. Being good pays off a great deal. It attracts favors from family, friends, colleagues, etc. Being good means serving others, creating happiness, being supportive, being generous and helpful. Being good means being available to those in need. Being good means being authentically cheerful and humorous. Being good means being optimistic about life. Being good means being humble. Being good means having faith in God. Being good means helping those we consider little in our homes and offices. These are great lessons from the Centurion today. He is genuinely good.

Jesus rewards him by making his servant "perfectly well". Goodness begets goodness. Friends, just be good all the time. Be good to your husband, wife, children, brothers and sisters. Be good to your friends. Be good to your colleagues at work. Be good to your employees. Be good to your community and to those you meet in your daily life. In the long run, your goodness will pay you back in numerous ways. Don't be bad, just be good.