In Matthew 8:5-17 we learn that Jesus healed those who had faith.
When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,
but the children of the Kingdom
will be driven out into the outer darkness,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion,
“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.
Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.
When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:
“He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
And so there it is: “As you have believed, let it be done for you.” In many of the stories in the Gospels, Jesus the Christ heals people by touch, but many are healed because of their faith in Him. In this case, a Roman centurion came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant and feeling unfit for Jesus to come into his home, stated his belief that Jesus could heal his servant simply by word. By the centurion’s faith, Jesus healed his servant from afar.
As this reading proceeds, we see that Jesus cured the sick and the possessed by touch and by word. Were they all believers? I think we have to assume so.
Jesus has said before that with fervid faith we can move mountains. That what we ask God in need, He will provide.
God has never failed to provide when I truly needed something and I prayed to Him for it. Sure, I was disappointed a time or two when there was something I just wanted and I didn’t get it. But when it came to real, actual needs, He has come through every time. So I can attest to the power of prayer. And the power of God’s wisdom and compassion.
Are there people who pray and aren’t cured? Apparently. So what’s with that? Is it that God didn’t come through or that their faith wasn’t strong enough? We cannot know – that’s between them and God. As the saying goes, “God works in mysterious ways.” So does humanity. But here we have one Gospel story among many of Jesus healing through faith. And I have to believe that it’s fervent faith that wins the battle. It’s up to us individually working with God to prove the case.
And here’s another way to look at this reading. This idea came about after Pope Francis’ recent interaction with a group of refugees, engaging them to make a point not just about refugees but about the afflicted. And his point was to touch others. Often in trying to help others we keep them at a distance; we fail to actually touch them. In today’s reading, yes Jesus acted to heal the centurion’s servant at a distance, but He also touched Peter’s mother-in-law to heal her and He touched the sick to heal them. How can we not follow Jesus’ example and touch the afflicted, whether they are refugees or the sick, to show compassion and, as Pope Francis says, know their pain? Maybe by our faith, in touching the afflicted we will help their faith and help heal them.