Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the Eucharist, a ...

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One of my most favorite moments in the Catholic Mass is when as a congregation, everyone speaks together during the Eucharistic celebration, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and I shall be healed.” This is derived from today’s Gospel reading. The centurion, a man of compassion and great faith, humbles himself to the Lord to ask for healing for his suffering servant who lies at home paralyzed.

Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. (Matt 8:8 NAB)

The adaptation in the Mass embodies a great deal of my core faith. Without humility, I cannot surrender to God‘s will. If I cannot surrender, I cannot be in full union with God. Out of union with God, I am discontent, without joy. Without joy, I cannot fully love. God created me to love and be loved. Without humility I cannot be the person God created me to be.

I am to receive the Lord. I am to be open. I am to recognize God as a gift. I am to recognize that God comes to me, is with me. We’ve never really been apart except in our minds. I am to welcome God into my heart as an honored guest.

I’ve found so many Protestants to be pleasantly enlightened by my explanation of the Eucharistic Celebration in the Catholic Church. They are quite happy to discover we don’t believe in cannibalism. They are then intrigued that our belief in the real presence of Christ is rooted in believing that the Eucharistic Celebration reunites us with Christ in time and place. While the Spirit is with me always, I’m filled with such gratitude to be joined with Christ each time I participate in the wondrous experience of Holy Communion. I feel even more personally connected to God which sets the foundation for what is said next.

When we say, “only say the word,” I think of three things. First, God is so powerful that only God’s voice, not God’s physical presence, is necessary to animate God’s will. Yet, the Creator gave us Christ to be a physical presence to humanity. Second, I imagine “word” to be capitalized. The Creator spoke us all, including Jesus the Christ, into being. Third, the Word who existed since the world began is the source of our healing. The moment concludes with the assurance that our hope is in the Lord and we shall be healed. Isaiah reminds us that the glory of the Lord is made manifest through God’s merciful cleansing of our souls, bringing light to the darkness. If I allow it, welcome it, welcome Christ into my heart, I am healed today in so many ways.

To Contemplate
For whom do you struggle to have empathy and compassion?
What is your reason to receive communion…to comply with tradition, to be comforted, to be more fully united with Christ the Lord in the mission of bringing peace and salvation to the world?
Where do you see opportunities to bring God’s message and ministry of healing to those around you?
When will you know that you are fully healed?
Why is it so difficult for you as an individual to feel a personal connection with God?
How can you better prepare yourself for the coming of Christ in glory?

To Devote Ourselves, We Pray
Lord you have washed away our sins, healed us and made us stronger. We are in awe of your compassion and power. Gently humble our hearts to recognize our unworthiness, empower us with empathy and fill us with compassion. As we have been healed and are filled with Your presence, let us likewise share the same with all those about us, bringing peace to one moment, one person at a time until you come again to heal in full all who will receive you. Amen

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