In today's gospel, Luke tells the story of the centurion whose slave is sick. The centurion was a Roman soldier would have represented to Jesus and other Jews, a government which cruelly suppressed the Jewish people and kept them under close watch. Yet when asked to heal the centurion's slave, Jesus goes immediately to heal him.
As he approaches, the centurion sends word to Jesus that he does not have to come to the house. The centurion knew that for Jesus to enter a Gentile home would make Jesus ritually unclean by Jewish laws. Instead, showing a remarkable belief in Jesus' powers he says, “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. But say the word and let my servant be healed.” And Jesus did.
Those powerful words of faith by the centurion are echoed at every Mass before communion as the congregation prays,
But far too many of us speak the whole sentence but only hear and believe the first half: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” That's it. We are stuck with the image that we are terrible, sinful and shameful people, so unworthy that we cannot ask Jesus to come to heal us.
Maybe it's easier for us to hold Jesus at arm's length, telling him we are not worthy to be loved by him, to pray to him or even to have conversation with him about our lives. If we really wanted to have a deeper friendship with him, what would he ask of us and our lives? Would I have to let go of the bitter grudge I have held for so long? Resolve to love my spouse more deeply or stop parading my disappointment in my children like a banner? Maybe if I asked Jesus to heal the parts of my life that are out of balance and addictive - I would have to admit to myself that I might not really want to let go of that addiction. And would I really have the strength to stop judging others as Jesus asked? It is so much a part of my life. It may just be easier for us to say we aren't worthy and look the other way.
But none of us are worthy, until we really hear, deep in our hearts, the second part of that prayer:
All it takes is a word or a deep, healing look at us from Jesus and we are made whole. And at that point, to the delight of Jesus, we, too, might recognize how worthy we are and how loved in our sinfulness. Jesus came on earth to heal each one of us. His mission from his beloved Abba was to love us and heal us; heal us and love us. Of course we are not worthy to have him enter into our hearts, but he will! All we have to do is invite him in. All we have to do is believe in his healing love for us. Jesus doesn't heal us because we deserve it but because he loves us with a lavish and unending love.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook