An amazing faith. This is an amazing story. It differs greatly from the one in Matthew. In Matthew the centurion speaks directly to Jesus. In Luke's account he sends first a delegation of Jewish elders and then his friends. He never meets, never talks directly to, or encounters Jesus. Amazing!
A Roman, a member of the oppressing government, an enemy of Israel. Yet the centurion seems to be different. When Luke's gospel is written the temple would have been destroyed by the Romans, there would have been plenty of reasons to view this man as the enemy, yet he is not.
Luke's gospel even takes it further describing what a good man he was helping the Jews to build their synagogue instead of standing in their way and being unhelpful. How good he was to those under his roof. Exactly like it was unusual for a centurion to act this way.
Are you getting the picture yet? What if we put into this story that it is a Muslim who helped the community build a church. Or maybe it's a gay person who has done it. We don't live in a time when we are occupied, nor do we know what it is to be under occupation. Yet we classify a group of people as the enemy in our own minds because they are different than we are.
This is the amazing thing in this story. They have faith too. They can be helpful, they can be nice and kind, they can be living the gospel and they are amazing because they keep their faith despite our condemnation, despite our classifying them as the enemy, despite our predetermine ruins of who they are and how they should act.
Amazing faith. Because the centurion had such a respect for this fringe Rabbi. Because he dared to trust in a Jewish Rabbi to heal from afar. Because he never doubted that his request would be denied.
Do we have that faith. In this season of political challenge where it is easier to village others instead of remember Christ's love for all. When the reporters and advertisers tell us we are not safe and we can blame our fear on others can we keep the faith. Because it is not only present in this gospel story, but in Elijah's as well. A faith that doesn't fear God will not hear. A faith that doesn't rain down vengeance but responds to an offering of faith in deeply troubled times, as Elijah is on the run for being outspoken about the selfishness of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
This is the everyday working of faith. Trusting in others who are labeled as our enemies. Trusting God will be in our kindness. Trusting there is a working in us when we follow the call to love our enemies as well as our neighbor. Can we heed the example of this call?