Today, 17 July 2016, the Orthodox Christians are on the 4th Sunday after the Pentecost. His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania delivered a sermon at patriarchal stavropegial Saint Mary Monastery, Techirghiol, in which he emphasised the teaching of the Gospel text read today (Matthew 8:5-13) which presents the healing of the centurion’s servant.
The Gospel shows us that the merciful and healing love of Christ brings about strong faith to pagans. First of all, the Gospel shows us that the centurion has merciful love for his servant, deep humbleness and strong faith. This is why Jesus Christ, our Saviour, answers with kindness, because He felt that that man had much merciful kindness. Secondly, the Roman centurion of Capernaum prefigures all the pagans, all the nations, peoples, who will believe in Jesus Christ and enter the Kingdom of God while some of the Jews who did not believe in Jesus will remain outside the Kingdom. Thirdly, the Gospel shows us that we must pray and work not only for our personal healing when we are sick, but also for the healing of all those who suffer, His Beatitude said.
The Patriarch of Romania has also underlined that a new element is the fact that this time the request of healing comes from the master of the sick one. This impressed Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
The Gospel shows us that the healing of the centurion’s servant was not done at the request of the sick one who could not travel to express the sufferance of his disease, but at that of his master who came to Jesus. Jesus, the Saviour, is sensitive to the merciful love for somebody who suffers. The merciful kindness of this Roman centurion impressed Jesus Christ, our Saviour. He is surprised by the faith of this pagan who renounced, in fact, to his pagan faith because it was not efficient and believed in Jesus of Nazareth, the healer of diseases, the Son of God, who is the only one who can give good health and life to those who are at the limit between life and death, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said.
A new perspective appears through this Roman centurion, His Beatitude added, namely, opening the Kingdom of Heaven to all people.
After admiring this pagan, Jesus Christ, our Saviour, added a prophecy, saying that pagan peoples will come from the East and West who will stay in the Kingdom of Heaven, at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and James, the patriarchs of the chosen. In other words, our Saviour Jesus Christ shows us that through this Roman centurion a new perspective is open namely not only salvation of the chosen people, but also salvation of all peoples who by believing in Jesus Christ will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is why the Roman centurion, just like the Canaanite woman, represents the anticipation or beginning of opening the Kingdom of Heaven to all nations based on the faith in Jesus Christ.
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel has also said that we learn from the centurion of the Gospel text read today about the power of the word.
This Romanian officer reveals us the power of the word, the word which generates action, which makes people move, creates events, actions, and works. Yet, the word of this Roman centurion was a mobilising one which moved the soldiers subordinated to him, but he saw that Jesus had another word which the Roman military did not have, namely the healing word. Thus, he recognises that Jesus is a doctor of the souls and bodies, the healing spring, that He is God.