The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
Differences tend to divide: boys and girls, abled and disabled, rich and poor, black and white. In the Navajo language, the word for stranger is the same as for enemy, with the meaning depending on the context. Relating across differences can be tricky and sometimes difficult.
The Roman centurion knew that Jews didn’t like Romans much—and Jesus was a Jew. So that may have been why the centurion asked some Jewish elders to see if Jesus would come and heal his servant, who was sick and dying. The elders told Jesus that the centurion was a good man and had done helpful things for the Jews. Although I think Jesus would have said “Yes” anyway, he agreed to go and meet this Roman.
Before Jesus arrived, though, the centurion sent him another message: “I know you have authority, so all you have to do is say the word, and my servant will be healed.” And Jesus did!
In this story there is no hint of prejudice in Jesus. He headed directly to the Roman’s house. And then, when the Roman suggested that Jesus could simply heal his servant from a distance, Jesus did that. And he praised and honored the man’s faith! Jew or Roman, faith is faith.
To imitate Jesus is to love our neighbors; difference does not matter.
Jesus, Son of God, thank you for loving and helping us from the goodness of your heart. Help us to love and help others for your sake. Amen. (AM)