What do we think of when we hear the words, “Not worthy”? Just two little words, and yet they are enough to make one cringe. “Lord, I am not worthy.” In the case of the centurion, he speaks of not being worthy of having Jesus enter his home. Undoubtedly he knew what might happen to Jesus if the general populace or the elders of Israel got wind of the fact that Jesus had entered the home of a Gentile, and a member of the Roman occupational force.
What do we mean when we say these words before we receive the Eucharist? Who is worthy? Do we fall into the trap of making comparisons? All of us here today have consecrated our lives to God. Does that not make us just a little bit worthy?
The fact of the matter is that we have to avoid saying these words while comparing ourselves to others. Like the centurion, we must say them as a way of admitting that we are sinners, that we are all blessed with the tremendous gifts of love and compassion that God bestows on sinners. If not for the love of God, we would not be who we are. It is God’s love that makes it possible for us to allow Jesus into our lives. Without that love, we would be nothing.
The poetic lamentation that we read before the Gospel speaks of God as someone who destroys in anger, who consumes a nation in wrath. Jesus has revealed a much different vision of God than the one who is portrayed in Lamentations. For when we tell God that we are not worthy, we immediately follow the statement up with words that speak of healing, Say but the word and my soul shall be healed!
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator