As a Roman centurion and officer of the imperial army, the man seeking Jesus’ blessings and intervention in Matthew’s Gospel account had far superior socio-economic status to Jesus; yet he begged for help while declaring himself unworthy to even invite Jesus to his house. Jesus is surprised to find the grace and humility in the centurion not merely for his faith in Jesus’ healing power, but more for his care and compassion for his servant.
Roman soldiers were trained to be superior to those they conquered and presided over and they scorned the Jews. This centurion humbles himself significantly before Jesus by giving him great honor and deference. At the same time, he also puts his own reputation on the line by seeking help for, and showing compassion for, his servant. Like the centurion, St. Ignatius was a soldier who went through a conversion and who then instituted the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus to be constantly in the service of others.
—John LaMantia is a graduate of Fordham University and Saint Ignatius College Prep who is a trial attorney in the service of others. He is on the JFAN Chicago board for the Midwest Jesuits and continues to provide his four children with a Jesuit high school and college education.