THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
The Third Sunday after the Epiphany
22 January 2017
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The faith of the Centurion is often interpreted in such a manner that Jesus can give the command and the angels will carry out His command. If Jesus will but say the word it will be done, because the angels are ever waiting for the voice of God; and at His word they spring into action. The Centurion is subject to authority and has others subject to himself. In a like manner, Jesus is subject to the Father, but has authority over everything else. Some of the Fathers of the Church suggest to us that Jesus can command death and sickness to depart and life and health to enter and they will obey just as the winds and the waves obey His command without the need of intermediator angels.
Whether Jesus commanded angels, or commanded life and health directly is interesting to consider, but we must not become so engaged in this as to lose the reason why this is related to us in the first place. We should be focusing our attention on receiving instruction that will advance us in our own spiritual lives.
Jesus is God, and even when He is not present in Body; He is present in Power. God is omni-present; hence, it was not necessary for Jesus to physically go to the Centurion's servant.
We can never escape the Presence of God, but we can often fail to experience His Presence. Just because we may fail to see Him, does not imply that He cannot see us. The child that learns to play the game of "peek-a-boo" covers his eyes and thinks that because he cannot see us, that we therefore cannot see him. Adults understand this game and play along, acting surprised every time the child uncovers his eyes. Tragically, many adults live their lives under the same childish illusion when it concerns God. Sinners block out the thought of God, believing / pretending / hoping that God is not thinking of them.
The Light of God is everywhere and we cannot escape It. However, we can shut our eyes to this Light and live in the darkness of sin. The darkness of sin is not because we have been abandoned by God, but rather because we have turned away from God or shut ourselves off from Him. The mind of the sinner is a very small one indeed. The sinner actually turns within himself and shuts out everything outside of himself; and his world becomes exponentially smaller. As the sinner approaches the absolute exclusion of God he approaches the very nothingness from which he was drawn forth. As long as there is life, God's grace may still open his eyes and draw him back from the brink of eternal damnation.
The Centurion's servant would have died, but for the prayers of his master. What a wonderful grace it was to be the servant of such a Centurion. In this life we may never truly know how often we have been spared from suffering and even death because of the prayers of others. If children only knew of the many prayers that parents have poured fourth for their souls, they would surely love their parents more than ever. But, it is not only our parents but all who have authority over us that are bound to pray for us, as well as those who are subject to us. Often our prayers appear not to be answered or God seems distant from us. It is in these moments that we must stir up in our souls the faith of the Centurion. Our prayers are not being wasted. It is perhaps our prayers that have prevented matters from being worse than they are. As long as there is life there is need for us to pray, let us not give up.
If we pray with the faith of the Centurion and the perseverance of St. Monica; we may well apply the words of St. Ambrose to St. Monica to ourselves: "It cannot be that the son for whom you shed such tears and prayers should be lost." God always hears our prayers, and He will answer them if we persevere in true faith, hope, and love.
The principle prayer that should be ours is that of eternal happiness with God in Heaven. It is well and good to pray for the physical things of this world: life, health, peace, prosperity; but we should always remember that these things are often hindrances to our spiritual lives. Crosses and sufferings are often great spiritual blessings, because they force us to turn to God in prayer and in this way we obtain His favor for others, while we endear ourselves to Him even more.
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