A couple of days ago we were at the Basilica of Mother Mary in Shivaji Nagar. We witnessed the simple faith of people. The non-Christians were also present in big number. Quite a few non-Christians after receiving blessings from us the deacons touched and kissed our feet. This humble gesture of faith of these non-Christians truly impressed me. This was also the case with Jesus. No wonder, of all the people the Syro-Phoenician woman and Centurion are exalted by Jesus for their deep faith.
I would like to reflect with you the leadership qualities of Centurion which could be very useful for all of us. Like it or not all of us would be leaders or already leaders in various capacities. The leadership quality of centurion is worth admiring.
He was dearly concerned for his slave who really does not deserve such a treatment. He was surely living in a time when slaves were treated worse than objects. A true leader does not undervalue anyone. The dignity he crowns on his slave can be a real lesson for all of us. Do we not call the elderly workers by name, just because we are ordained priests and are placed in charge of the workers? We pay for the work they render and we actually do not pay for the harsh words and disrespect we sometimes manifest.
As soon as he heard that Jesus was entering Capernaum, he sent the Jewish elders as the delegates. A Roman seeking the help of Jewish elders is unthinkable. A true leader should be willing to work with people from different states and cultures. He did not share the same prejudice which every Roman had towards the Jews or vice versa. In our dealings, we cannot always expect to work with people of our own culture or language. We need to rise above the petty prejudices we carry about other people.
In his act of sending the delegates he teaches us an important lesson. We need to share our responsibility. We need not carry the whole burden on our head and it also needs certain humility to ask the help of someone. When as a leader, we realize that a particular work can be done by someone better than our own selves; we need to seek the help from that person. Naturally it would be easy for the Jews to approach Jesus than the Romans.
When Jesus gets impressed by the delegates’ testimony, he decides to meet the centurion. Before he could reach him, the second batch of delegates are sent by the centurion. This time it was his friends. He does not want Jesus to take too much of trouble on his behalf. He confesses his unworthiness through his friends. He is not ashamed to explain his situation through friends. This shows how the centurion is transparent in his dealings with his friends. Every leader should be transparent in his dealings.
Centurion is not ashamed to acknowledge his capacity and power. True humility is accepting one’s strength and weakness. If a person who can sing well pretends to be a non-singer it is not humility, it is humbug. This is the false humility we learnt from wrong sources. True humility is acknowledging one’s situation. A leader should acknowledge his capacity and weakness.
Finally, those words of deep significance ‘ I am not worthy to receive you’ Every day we pray it in the Eucharist. These words bring in the element of deep faith. This is the most important quality of a leader. If a leader is not deeply rooted in God he will be a failure.
Now we realize what it means to get good name from Jesus!