Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

The Faith of the Centurion

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

When Peter on the lake suddenly realised not only with his mind but with all the awe of his being who the Lord Jesus Christ was, he said, УLeave my boat, o Lord, I am not worthy that I should be in Thy presence.Ф

And today we find another man whose faith is calm and grave Ч the centurion. He came to Christ to ask for the healing of his servant, for mercy and for love. And when Christ said to him that He would come and heal this servant of his, he said, УNo, You need not trouble Yourself. A word of Yours will suffice.Ф And Christ let him go, He did not say, УTo reward your faith I shall come all the same.Ф He let him return to his home to find his servant healed.

How different it is from so many of our attitudes. We turn to God half-heartedly in the vague, uncertain hope that He will and that He can respond to us. The centurion had no such dividedness of mind and heart. He knew that if it was right, God will act. He presented Him with his request with all his hope and all his faith but he claimed nothing, certainly not any reward for the faith he had expressed. He went. Yes, indeed, his prayer was fulfilled and it was enough for him. He had met the mercy of God face to face and the mercy had responded because he himself was prepared to accept whatever the Lord would decide.

When we turn to God we must learn this whole-heartedness. We must turn to Him in the certainty that He can act, that His love is entirely and perfectly offered, but that His wisdom may find it right to act in a way different from what we expect. And we must be prepared to present our request to the Lord and then go, leave it to Him to act as best He chooses. In a way we must be prepared to trust Him so completely that His absence should not shake our faith. His absence is never real, it is our subjective perception of it. He is always there in our midst, with us, but at times He makes this presence perceived, at times not. We must never doubt that He is there, Ч He is but in His wisdom preparing us to a greater maturity than that of a beggar, a greater maturity than one who expects continuously to be helped and protected, and be heard, He makes himself unperceptible, unperceived.

Let us learn to trust the Lord not only when we are overwhelmed by His presence but also when apparently He is not there. And when in one way or another He says to us, УYou have received from Me all you needed, go now and do your work, proclaim My mercy, do to others what I have done to you,Ф Ч then we must be prepared to go away, away from the services, away from our surrounding, away towards those who need the Lord, Who sends us to them. Amen.

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