Why do you not heal me?—Fourth Sunday of Matthew

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

In my pride and hubris I state to myself rather than to God, “why do you not heal me?  I am good,” I lie to myself, “I am in Church: heal me.”  And I do not receive healing so I curse God: “why have you abandoned me.”  And when I do this it is because I fail to recognise the Gospel—I have transformed our Faith into a dispenser of miracles, I only worry about what I can get out of it instead of the one thing needful.

When God heals—and he does this regularly, and he does this often—it is for the sake of the Kingdom, it is that his Name be glorified, it is that we turn from sin and towards life.  We do not often understand the why, we do not know why he intervenes in one situation but not another, but we trust it is to bring as many as possible to faith in him.

Just a few verses prior to today’s reading the Lord concluded the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) to his disciples and the faithful remnant of Israel, now he starts the work of bringing the Gentiles into the Church.  In Capernaum, a centurion comes forward beseeching him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.”  And Christ, knowing the man’s heart, could have said “your servant is healed:” but this would not have had the effect on his disciple—on you and on me!—that he wanted.  This is not only about healing, it is to bring about faith.  “I will come,” says the Lord, “and heal him.”

The Lord, in his great love for us, draws out from the centurion a great confession of faith,

Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.  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.

And I hear this confession and I marvel, I am cut to the core.  In my state I am demanding healing yet this Gentile, outside the Church and outside grace, has faith.  I am demanding healing on my terms while he is proclaiming the Gospel.

My dear brothers and sisters, the Lord heals: but the manner and occasion of such healing we do not always understand.  But more significant than bodily healing, he heals our souls; and this he does through baptism, through the Eucharist, through confession, through prayer, through fasting, through ascetical labours, through everything the Church offers to the Faithful and to the world.  And when we set aside our pride, set aside our sin, we have the opportunity to meet the Lord and be made whole.  Bodily infirmity may be healed or may remain that, in both cases, we may have the opportunity to glorify God.

Let us all, then, with one mind and one heart turn to the Lord and place our trust in him knowing that he knows when and why he intervenes in his creation.  Let us ask for healing but place our hope and trust in his healing of our souls more than our bodies.  Let us proclaim the Gospel that we may be faithful witnesses of him, as was the centurion, and he remembers us in his Kingdom.

To our risen and glorified Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Healer of souls and bodies, be all glory, honour and might, together with his Unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

Timothy, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
— 2 Timothy 2:1–10

At that time, as Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 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.” When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
— Matthew 8:5–13