December 3, 2012 - Monday of the First Week of Advent

Today's Readings

How marvelous that we have restored to us this verse from the Gospels. The centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed.” We repeat these words at every Mass, changing “servant” to “soul” because we are not asking for the healing of someone else but for our own healing.

Why do we repeat this at every Mass? It is because we are about to receive Communion, and it is most appropriate that we should say something signifying great faith, for we would not dare approach the sacred sacrifice without faith. Now we could say something like, “Jesus I believe in you” or “Jesus you are the Christ, the Son of God, God himself”, but we say this phrase instead. Why? Because Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, I have not found such faith.” If Jesus considered these words to be the highest expression of faith that he found, why would we say anything else?

We should know what we are saying though, since simply pronouncing the words is not an act of faith unless we mean them. Jesus offers to come heal the centurion’s servant, as he had healed many people. We know that Jesus can heal without touch, even from a far way off. He is God. He can do everything. The centurion is telling Jesus that he knows that the actual coming to the house and laying on of hands is an unnecessary part of the healing. He is telling Jesus that he has faith in Jesus’ power and does not need the external helps to faith.

He is also asserting his faith by acknowledging that he is not worthy to have Jesus enter under his roof. The centurion was an officer in the Roman army. He was a great man as the world judges greatness, yet he judged that Jesus was greater yet. He sees in addition to the power some less definable characteristic: holiness.

In this one sentence the centurion states that Jesus, though he looks like an ordinary human, is nevertheless very powerful and very holy. No wonder then that Jesus praised the faith of this man. When we repeat his words at each Mass before receiving Communion, we acknowledge the same reality: what looks like bread and wine is nevertheless very powerful and very holy.