“Lord, I am not worthy”

by: Casey Flack

The Mass is filled with hidden messages from Scripture, and perhaps one of my favorites is the prayer of the people in response to the call to the Eucharistic Table, “Lord I am unworthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” These words echo those of the Roman centurion who trusted in Jesus to heal his servant from a distance (Mt 8:8). In the moment the centurion was aware of his own faults, and knew he could not invite Jesus into his household, but trusted in His power to heal.

For us it is even more profound. This response is placed immediately before the distribution of the Eucharist for a reason. In saying this we are both admitting that the Eucharist is an undeserved gift from God and that God makes us worthy to bring Himself into our bodies because of His great love. For the first, we recognize that we did nothing to deserve this great gift. It is instead given by Jesus for our own well-being. It is the medicine that heals body and soul.

For the second, in giving a gift, God does not intend on hiding it. By entrusting it to the Church, He also lifts up its members so that He can encounter them in the most intimate way possible. For us, this is an act of turning back to God – conversion. Each mass provides us with the opportunity to commit ourselves, despite our flaws and failings, to God’s call in our lives, “come home.”

Just what kind of healing are we asking for in this moment? We are asking to be more like Jesus – to be made whole. I suggest this begins with our Eucharistic attitude toward life, accepting as Job did with the good and with the bad, but always offering a hymn of thanksgiving to God. It is not a condemnation of lowliness, but rather an admission of who we are and what Jesus makes us to be. It’s a promise that is both fulfilled, and yet to be fulfilled. The healing we seek at the Altar is not healing our pride, but rather, healing between ourselves and God.

In turn, this should inspire us when we leave the Mass. Having reminded ourselves of both our unworthiness and conversion, we are meant to do the same for each other. It is a call to humility, a reminder that our universe is not centered on ourselves but rather on God. We ought to take this phrase with us into our lives, being thankful (Eucharistic) for all of creation, and especially our neighbors. In fostering a thankful spirituality of life we are able to enter more deeply into the mystery of giving without cost, only to receive without limit. May the Lord give us humble and generous hearts this Easter.

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