As Jesus takes His last breath, a centurion has a powerful conversion of faith:
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” -Mark 15:37-39, NAB
For the past couple of months, we have been studying the Gospel of St. Mark, verse by verse. We have watched Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist, wandering the desert, healing the sick, and teaching many great parables. Now, His mortal life on earth has come to an end.
Jesus’ life may have come to an end, but that was only the beginning of something greater. Immediately, we see how Christ’s death on the cross has the power to change hearts. The conversion of the centurion, within moments of Jesus’ death, shows the true saving power of Christ’s work on the cross.
It does not take long to search the Internet for powerful, moving conversion stories of those who came to faith in Jesus Christ and those who converted to Catholicism. Even those who were born Catholic often have a conversion of heart at some point, where they dedicate their lives fully to God. While we all come from different paths, our conversion stories meet at the cross.
Studying and reading the Passion narrative can be a difficult thing to do. For me, it brings up a swell of emotions as I realize my part in nailing Jesus to the cross. But as sad as Jesus’ death makes us, we can find hope in the Resurrection. We know that His death is not truly the end, but only the beginning to so much more. The centurion’s conversion marks that beginning.
Since the time of the centurion’s conversion, millions of souls have been converted to Christ. This is what Christ truly came for. He did not come to judge; He did not come simply to teach; and He surely did not come just to work a few miracles. He came to save the world! As John 3:17 tells us:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. -John 3:17, NAB
In this verse, we read about the veil of the sanctuary being torn from top to bottom. While this may seem insignificant, it opened a part of the Jewish temple that was reserved for the high priest alone. The tearing of the veil signifies, then, that Christ’s saving work has opened the doors for all of mankind. Now, we can all approach the altar and share in God’s saving grace.
Through our sins, we have each taken part in Christ’s death, but by sharing the faith and assisting with the conversion of others, we can also take part in the saving work of the cross. Be bold in your faith and tell everyone you see the Good News.