November 28, 2016
The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. (Matthew 8:5-11)
These words, spoken by a Roman centurion and used as a part of the Communion Rite of our Catholic Mass, convey a powerful statement of faith. The centurion does not feel worthy of having Jesus come into his home, but trusts that Jesus can heal his servant simply by saying the words. He believes that it is possible.
These words are certainly memorable, and teach a great lesson on faith, but how do they fit into the Mass? Why include them as the words the faithful proclaim prior to receiving Holy Communion?
If you think about it, we are expressing a faith similar to that of the centurion. We are not worthy of receiving so precious a gift as the real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion. By saying these words, we are admitting our unworthiness. We are also saying, “We believe!” We are expressing a firm belief that all things are possible with God. Jesus does not have to be with us in human form for us to recognize His presence.
It is a bold statement.
When we receive Holy Communion the Eucharistic Minister says, “The Body of Christ.” We respond by saying, “Amen.” This puts an exclamation point on our belief in His presence. By saying, “Amen” we are saying “I would stake my life on it.”
None of us are worthy. God’s gift is that He comes to us anyway.