June 27, 2020
by Steve Scholer
Creighton University's University Relations
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 376

Lamentations 2:2, 10-14, 18-19
Psalm 74:1b-2, 3-5, 6-7, 20-2
Matthew 8:5-17
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

A Matter of the Heart: Prayer as Relationship

Who would think that two little words could have such a negative connotation? Two little words that can make you feel like the lowest scoundrel, cheat, liar, and all-around bad person. In fact, the synonyms include, unseemly, shameful, dishonorable, despicable, contemptible, reprehensible, inexcusable, and unforgivable. The two little words are, “not worthy.”
These are the very two words the centurion said when he turned down Jesus’ magnanimous offer to come to his house and cure his paralyzed servant: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.”

At every Mass, after the priest says, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” we respond in unison: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.”

All too often saying out loud, with the whole parish to hear, that we are “not worthy” can get our heads spinning. Why we would say that we are not worthy? We are here at Mass and support the church, we volunteer at the shelters, we say grace at every meal, we are loving spouses and parents. We even read the Daily Reflections. Why, then, are we, such good Catholics, not worthy?

The wise centurion knew better than to fall into the trap of judging his own worth in comparison to that of other humans, for he knew that the worthiness he felt in his community, his home and in relationship to his fellow citizens was absolutely zero compared to the love and goodness that comes from God. The centurion knew there was no comparison to be made, he was then as we are today -- not worthy of the limitless love and forgiveness God bestows upon us every day.

But take heart. Listen to how Jesus responds to the centurion’s statement. Does Jesus use words like the ones in the opening paragraph to condemn and belittle him? No, quite the opposite. Jesus says to the centurion, “In no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Who among us would not like to hear those words?

So, when we say for all to hear that we are “not worthy,” remember the comforting last words we say just before kneelingā€¦ “But only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”

When we say these words, we become like the centurion, admitting that we are broken sinners, not worthy of God’s grace and love. But we are also professing our unflinching faith in the healing power of God. With our request to God to “say the word,” we put our lives and souls in his hands and profess, faithfully, that the body and blood of our savior, Jesus, will redeem us and make and keep us worthy.

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