First Reading: Gn 18:1-15; Psalm: Lk 1. R. v. 54b; Gospel: Mt 8:5-17
A LESSON FROM THE CENTURION
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
“‘For I am a man under authority with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’” (Mt 8:9).
One fascinating thing about this centurion was his compassionate heart and humility. From what he said about himself that he was a man with many soldiers under his control; this could come with some pride and uncaring attitude but we saw a different man. From the manner he pleaded with Jesus, we could see a man full of compassion. He said; “Lord, my servant is lying paralysed at home, in terrible distress.” So, not only was this centurion moved by the disabled condition of his servant but he was also in touch with his servant’s emotional and psychological state. He emphasised that his servant was in terrible distress as he pleaded with Jesus. His sense of empathy is so touching.
Also, this centurion was not pleading for his wife or family but for his servant. As at the time this occurred, servants or slaves were inconsequential among the Romans and were treated as such by their masters. But this centurion stood out different. He did for his servant what his servant would do for him if he was well. He slaved for his servant for his servant to feel well. It is uncommon to see a Roman army commander lower himself to this level. Aside his faith, Jesus must have been moved also by his personality.
Every good leader must have these two qualities: compassion and humility. They are inevitable for good leadership. A leader without a compassionate heart will build a callous environment where hatred, anger, and resentment will thrive. To be a leader begins from being truly human which requires the disposition to show empathy. A leader without empathy is a dictator. Humility is the stair to greatness. Every leader must remember where s/he is coming from. No one was born to be a leader. We all started from somewhere. If we thought ourselves so important not to do what our subjects do, then we might soon fall from grace to grass.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Merciful Jesus, help us to be compassionate and humble. Amen.