When I attend Mass, the most personal and sacred moment is right before Communion. It’s when the Priest raises the Host and the Chalice and proclaims, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper“, and we respond, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say a word and I shall be healed.”
Recently, as I’ve learned of this prayer’s origin, I found it interesting that it was first spoken by a centurion in Capernaum when he approached and appealed to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Mt 8:5-11) He must be a really compassionate person to care so much for the well-being of others – a resemblance of Mother Teresa?
For me, this compelling prayer always strikes strong emotions. Placing my right hand over my heart, often I hear my own voice tremble, while my eyes get teary and my mind flows through a last-moment reflection… For a while there used to be feelings of guilt and despair, seldom positive and exhilarating thoughts…
These days it’s God’s Grace that “break open the word” for me to understand better, and I’m forever grateful. I now believe that this prayer reminds me to be humble and to trust that our Lord is gracious, merciful and forgiving. Our Lord does not judge how “worthy” I am, or keep score of how many times I do foolish things to show that I am not! Through and through, His word alone has the power to heal me and lead me out of darkness. The “Word” is that of Jesus calling me softly and tenderly to come to him; to come home; to stop being weary, afraid, ashamed.
It’s really up to us to listen. Are we letting the Word of Jesus bless us with dignity and honor, give us the strength to be faithful and walk in His way?