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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

The Village of Consolation

“I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick."

(Luke 7:9b-10 NKJV)

At the death of John the Baptist, Jesus had chosen Capernaum as his residence. From the Gospels we learn that this village, on the North / West shore of Lake Tiberias (Gennesaret), was the most frequented and served by Jesus. Who knows if the choice was also due to the name. In fact, Capernaum (Cafarnaum) in Hebrew means "village of consolation". Here he chose the disciples, and in the local synagogue he then gave the talk on bread. He is at home and everyone knows him. As a customs post, a small Roman garrison was based there. A place of return of each journey of the Master. And here he has just returned, when some Jewish elders mediate for an intervention by him in favor of the servant of a centurion, seriously ill and to whom his master was very fond. The intercession of the Jews, in any case already singular in itself, was based on the merits they attributed to the military, as he had contributed to the construction of the synagogue, and therefore a person close and dear to them. The fact that Jesus follows them without commenting suggests that he was also known to him. The Master does not distinguish whether Roman or Jewish, but responds to the appeal. Even today, those who invoke him and trust in him will not remain unanswered.

And while the group has almost reached its destination, always followed by a crowd of people, here is a second platoon sent by the centurion. This time it is his friends who tell the Master to stop: “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it”". These words amaze the Lord, who points out to the crowd that accompanied him that he had not yet found such faith in Israel. Unlike Naaman the Syrian who doubts the action of the prophet Elisha, relying on his high military rank and demanding respect, he is able to understand the power of Jesus precisely because of the authority he used to exercise. His is an act of great humility, but also the sincere gesture of those who do not consider themselves capable of hosting Christ. In Luke's account, he first entrusts himself to the Jews, then he appeals to his friends.

We are right in the consolation. We have before us the story of who does something for another, and all the actors on stage remain anonymous. The centurion cares about his sick servant. The Jewish elders intercede with Jesus for his intervention. Friends go to meet Jesus on behalf of the Romans. The Lord responds to the invitation to go first and stop later. He is almost a spectator of what is happening. And in all this the soldier and the teacher do not come into contact with each other. The centurion's faith makes an immense turn, and he has the desired effect, to the point of also finding the approval of the Lord, who without uttering any word will heal the sick. In the history of the centurion, his faith led Jews and friends to relate to Jesus. Faith does not require particular places and / or rituals, it does not always listen to an answer, but always moves God's hand.

Christ is the personification of God's compassion, well expressed in the attitude of the Good Samaritan who, passing by the wounded man, "saw him and had compassion" (Luke 10:33). Compassion literally means "to suffer with". God is not far from anyone's suffering, but he embraces those who suffer. Jesus took our suffering upon himself, and according to the prophet Isaiah he bore our infirmities in his bruises (53:4). Perhaps we should all grow in an attitude of care towards the needy, in order to be each with their own faith a response to the often mute cry for help of the suffering man, a response to the terrified and helpless gaze of the person overwhelmed by pain. ''“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God" (Isaiah 40:1).


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 25

June 13, Ezra 6-8; John 21

June 14, Ezra 9-10; Acts 1

June 15, Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-21

June 16, Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:22-47

June 17, Nehemiah 7-9; Acts 3

June 18, Nehemiah 10-11; Acts 4:1-22

June 19, Nehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37

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