What It Means To Be A Centurion

The Catholic grade school I attended had a bit of an unusual nickname: the Centurion. As a young child, I didn’t understand the significance of such a nickname. (It didn’t get much easier when I would have to spell out centurion as a cheerleader on the sidelines of a basketball game, but that’s beside the point…) Rather, I found myself wishing that we had a cooler nickname, something fierce and strong like the Lions or the Wildcats. But the Centurions? Eh. 

It wasn’t until I grew older and wiser, until I dove deeper into my faith, that I realized I was proud to have been a Centurion, in a sense. Or, better put, I was proud to have attended a school with the nickname “Centurion.” That sounds a bit odd, right? Let me explain. 

A centurion was someone serving in the Roman army in ancient times – and not just someone, but a high-ranking someone. They were responsible for commanding 100 men and also for enforcing discipline while receiving higher pay than the other soldiers. 

Now, last time I checked, I am not living in ancient Rome nor am I responsible for commanding soldiers. However, I would consider myself proud to have displayed the faith of the centurions in the Gospel. I want to be a centurion in that sense. 

In today’s Gospel, a centurion’s faith led to a great miracle. Another display of a centurion’s great faith came at the foot of the cross in the Gospel according to Matthew, when he said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” 

I don’t want to focus on the faith so much, though it is an important component of both of these Gospel passages. Rather, I want to focus on the words spoken to Jesus on behalf of the centurion, when it is said, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed.” 

This is a man who knows who he is and who the Lord is. This is a man who sees who he is before the Lord. How I wish we could all see ourselves for who we are before the Lord! There is a slight problem, though, with the centurion seeing himself as unworthy of the Lord’s presence despite so desperately wanting his prayer to be answered. Jesus’ victory won for us on the cross makes us worthy, makes the centurion worthy. We are worthy to come to Him for all of our needs, great and small. Thankfully, Jesus sees past the self-declared lowly centurion and heals his slave.

Let us, first and foremost, take courage and display the faith of the centurion but may we also see who we are before the Lord and never be afraid to go to Him with our needs.  

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Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Ross Cohen, https://unsplash.com/photos/JC-eGxsy7Yw