Monday, May 9, 2011

I Am Not Worthy

(From the movie Jesus of Nazareth, 1977)
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully."  He said to him,  "I will come and cure him."  The centurion said in reply,  "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. - Matthew 8:5-8

In Capernaum, the city of unbelievers, Jesus found one person of great faith. In charge of a hundred men, a man who knows war and bloodshed is the one to see the Healer of all healers and believe.

A pagan calls a Jewish man "Lord." Knowing that Jewish law forbids a Jew to enter the house of a Roman, he says with humility, "I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof."

How many of us feel unworthy to be Christians? Unworthy to be saved? Unworthy to receive Jesus under our roof, in our body's house - in the sacrament of the Eucharist?

Before Catholics receive the Eucharist in the liturgy of the Mass, we echo the words of the centurion, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, only say the word and I shall be healed."

But how many of us believe this?

There are too many blank, bored, and rebellious faces in line to receive Jesus in their hands, as if it is their right, as if He is a snack or part of a meaningless ritual. I include myself in the legions of people who do not always receive Jesus with the proper sense of respect - have I ever had enough reverence to receive God inside my body?

The Eucharist is the most radical belief of all religious beliefs. I have never heard of anything more insane. God coming down from heaven and giving Himself in the fullness of His body, blood, soul and divinity to us, to eat.  And yet, I know that it is true. How do I know this? I feel Jesus' presence in the tabernacle. I hear Him speak to me from the tabernacle. He drew me from a life of sin back to Him from the tabernacle. Religious life sustained for thousands of years on a large scale would not have been possible without Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. I also know that my current way of life (poor, celibate, obedient to my superior and living with nine other people) would be impossible without Jesus in the Eucharist. I'd be gone in a few months.

And finally, I believe in the Eucharist because Jesus told me to.

The centurion showed faith in Jesus' ability to do anything. Do we believe God can do anything?

The centurion returned home to a healed servant, his heart full of joy. What does Jesus have in store for us when we believe that Jesus is really present in the tabernacle and when we receive Him with reverence and faith in the Eucharist?