Faith, like goodness, can be found in the least expected places. There are times when we are simply stunned at our discovery of virtue in the people we least expect. The centurion in today’s Gospel is not even a Jew but his faith is stronger than most of the people we have met in the Gospel so far! How can this be the case? One of the first reactions of a Jew to this story would probably have been one of scandal! The faith of a gentile is greater than that of a Believer is indeed a scandal! However, it is not all that unusual when we study history.

 

Time and time again throughout human history there are examples of non-believers in whatever religion happens to be the majority one, outdoing the believers in their generosity and goodness to others. This indicates that there is a fundamental core of human goodness within a person that is there regardless of race, creed or religion. Religious belief builds on what is already there within a person because of the person’s humanity. The reason we expect more from a person of faith is precisely because of the nature of faith. It is our faith that should propel us towards greater expressions of humanity through the grace that it brings to our lives.

 

The inspiration of faith, the examples of the lives of the saints should be driving us to strive to grow in virtue. Virtue, at least the Cardinal Virtues of justice, temperance, fortitude and prudence are fundamentally human virtues that are acquired through constant hard work and diligent application on our part, as well as the aid of grace. They do not come easily and provide for us the hinges upon which our lives hang and are lived. Without virtue our lives will cease to be human, becoming subject to the vagaries of our basic instincts rather than our intellects. This is why Socrates reminds us that the unexamined life is not worth living. It is impossible to grow in virtue without proper reflection upon the choices we make in life.