2nd June 1945.
Jesus enters Capernaum coming from the country. Only the Twelve are with Him, nay, only eleven apostles, as John is not there. The usual greetings of the crowd form a vast range of expressions, from the entirely simple ones of children, to the rather shy ones of women, to the enraptured ones of people cured miraculously, and those which are either curious or ironical. There are enough to satisfy all tastes. And Jesus replies to everybody according to how He is greeted: caressing the little ones, blessing the women, smiling at those cured miraculously, and with deep respect for the others.
But this time the series is completed by the greeting of a centurion of the town, I think. He greets Him: « Hail, Master! » to which Jesus replies: « May God come to you. »
While the crowd draws close to see the outcome of the meeting, the centurion continues: « I have been waiting for You for several days. You do not recognise me as one of those who were listening to You on the Mount. I was wearing civilian clothes. Are You not asking me why I went there? »
« No, I am not, but what do you want from Me? »
« I have instructions to follow those who hold meetings, because too often Rome has had to regret having granted permission for apparently honest meetings. But seeing and listening to You, I thought of You as a... as a... I have a servant who is ill, Lord. He is lying in my house, in his bed, paralyzed by a disease of the bones and he suffers dreadfully. Our doctors cannot cure him. Your doctors refuse to come. I invited them to come because it is a disease caused by the corrupt air of this area and you know how to cure it with the herbs of the feversome soil of the shore where the water stagnates before being absorbed by the sand of the sea. I am very sorry because he is a faithful servant. »
« I will come and cure him. »
« No, my Lord. I am not asking You to go to all that trouble. I am a heathen, filth, as far as you are concerned. If the Jewish doctors are afraid of becoming contaminated by coming to my house, all the more reason it would contaminate You, Who are divine. I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but if You say only one word here, my servant will be cured because You rule over everything. Now if I, who am subject to my authorities, the first being Caesar, for whom I must act, think and behave as I am told, can in turn order soldiers under me, and if I say to one: “Go”, to another: “Come” and to a servant: “Do that”, the first one will go where I send him, the other will come because I call him, and the third will do what I tell him, You, as You are Who You are, will be immediately obeyed by the disease, which will vanish. »
« But the disease is not a man... » objects Jesus.
« Neither are You a man, You are the Man. You can therefore give orders to elements and fevers, because everything is subject to Your power. »
Some elders of Capernaum take Jesus aside and say to Him: « He is a Roman, but listen to him because he is an honest man who respects and helps us. It was he who built our synagogue and he has given strict instructions to his soldiers not to gibe at us on Sabbaths. Grant him, therefore, the grace, for the sake of Your town, so that he may not be disappointed and irritated, and his fondness for us may not turn into hatred. »
And Jesus, after listening to them, turns round smiling at the centurion and says: « Go ahead and I will come after you. »
But the centurion says once again: « No, my Lord, I have told You: it would be a great honour if You entered under my roof, but I do not deserve so much; say only one word and my servant will be cured. »
« Let it be so. Go and have faith. This very moment the fever is leaving him and life is flowing back into his limbs. Endeavour to get Life to come also to your soul. Go. »
The centurion salutes, then bows and goes away.
Jesus watches him go away, then turns to the people present and says: « I solemnly tell you that I did not find so much faith in Israel. Oh! It is quite true! “The people that walked in darkness saw a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone”, and also “The Messiah will hoist His flag over the nations and gather them together.” Oh! My Kingdom! They will really flow to you in immense numbers! More numerous than all the camels and dromedaries of Madian and Ephah, than those who bring the gold and incense of Sheba, more numerous than all the flocks of Kedar and the rams of Nebaioth, will be those who come to you and My heart will exult with joy seeing all the peoples of the sea and the wealth of the nations coming to Me. The islands are waiting for Me to adore Me, and the children of foreigners will build the walls of My Church, the gates of which will lie open continually to receive the kings and the wealth of the nations and sanctify them in Me. What Isaiah saw, will be accomplished! I tell you that many will come from the east and the west and will sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, whereas the children of the Kingdom will be thrown out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. »
« You therefore foretell that the gentiles will be equal to the children of Abraham? »
« Not equal, but greater. You can only regret that it is due to your fault. Not I, but the Prophets say so, and the signs already confirm it. Now some of you should go to the house of the centurion and ascertain that his servant is cured as the faith of the Roman deserved. Come. Perhaps in the house there are some sick people waiting for Me. »
Jesus with the apostles and a few more people turns His steps towards the usual house where He stays when in Capernaum, while most of the people, driven by curiosity, rush towards the centurion's house making a great noise.