Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 7:1-10)

A generation ago the former Beetle George Harrison published a song called “My Sweet Lord.” It tells of the artist’s desire to meet Jesus. “I really want to be with you,” the words go. In a fantasy novel entitled A Day with a Perfect Stranger a woman does meet him. She is an airline passenger who is given a seat between two men one of whom is Jesus. The traveler in the window seat chides her when she mentions that she is having difficulty supporting her husband’s newly found faith. The man in the aisle seat leaves the armrest for the woman to use. Which of the two do you suppose is Jesus?

In the gospel passage the centurion remarkably never meets the Lord. He sends Jewish elders to make his request for the healing of his servant. It is not that he considers himself more important than Jesus. Quite the opposite, he does not want to bother Jesus with the necessary courtesies of greeting a foreign official. He believes that Jesus can cure his servant from a distance. Jesus takes note of this faith and grants his request.

We may not have the personal encounter with Jesus that our hearts desire. But we do have his blessing as surely as the centurion in the gospel. Especially in the Eucharist we listen to Jesus’ words encouraging us to trust in him. We also touch him and hold him inside ourselves in the reception of Communion. Jesus does more than let us use an armrest. He gives himself for us to lean on.