November 07, 2021
Dear Friend of Saint Jude,
You may be familiar with the Gospel story of the centurion’s faith:
“And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set 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 servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” – (Luke 7:6-9)
This story reveals an insight that can be easily overlooked. Thankfully Saint Thomas Aquinas helps to draw our attention to it: “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled” (Lk. 7:9). The Greek word for “marveled” can also be translated as “filled with wonder.” This reaction is a beautiful one, not only for highlighting the centurion’s faith, but also for redirecting our gaze to the figure of Christ. As Saint Thomas points out, “We experience wonder in the face of those things whose causes we do not know.” Wonder is a distinctly human phenomenon, precisely because it involves the combination of knowing something and being ignorant of the reasons for it. The great saints of the early Church, unlike the heretics, always claimed that Jesus was both fully Divine and fully human.
By attributing this phenomenon of marveling to Christ, Saint Thomas sees the Gospel affirming that Christ really was human and, just like us, experienced wonder. In Charles Péguy’s epic poem The Portal of the Mystery of Hope, the author has God filled with wonder at our hope:
“Faith doesn’t surprise me. …
I am so resplendent in my creation. …
Charity … doesn’t surprise me. …
these poor creatures are so miserable that unless
they had a heart of stone, how could they not have
love for each other.
But hope … that is something that surprises me.
Even me. …
That these poor children see how things are going
and believe that tomorrow things will go better. …
That is surprising and it’s by far the greatest
marvel of our grace.
And I’m surprised by it myself.
And my grace must indeed be an incredible force.”
Of course, God cannot really be surprised. But Péguy correctly imagines God, like an artist, filled with wonder in the special works of His own Creation. God rejoices when we place our hope in Him. He commands His angels and His saints to be special messengers of the incredible force of His grace.
I pray that as you read the testimonies of the power of God’s grace contained in this issue of the Saint Jude Messenger, you will place your hope to an ever greater degree in Him who alone has the power to set you free.
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Rosary Shrine of Saint Jude