The Roman Missal: Lord, I Am Not Worthy

This past weekend, I had my mother over to the rectory to help with my taxes.  Clergy tax law is confusing enough for me (not to mention taxes, period), so my mother, who is trained as an accountant, was generous enough to give me a hand.  Mom, I know you’re probably going to read this, so thanks!  In any case, I spent the hour prior to her coming over trying to get my room cleaned and in order.  No matter how young or old you are, when your mom or dad come over, you want to make the place look decent for them so that they feel welcome.

Well, in a sense, this next portion of the Mass has to do with welcoming another guest into our homes.  It’s a fairly noticeable change, with “Lord I am not worthy to receive you…” switching to “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”  That’s a big change!

Ultimately, this comes straight from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 8:8), and the story of the centurion who comes to Jesus asking healing for his servant.  He’s not a Jew.  He doesn’t even seem to be a follower of Jesus.  He has no right to Jesus’ healing at all, but he has great faith and humility, and he begs the Lord to heal his servant.

At this point of the Mass, we’re invited to put ourselves in his place before Jesus.  We’re not worthy to receive the Eucharist.  Nothing we could say or do could make us deserve it.  Ultimately, God is holy, and we are weak sinners, and by pure justice, he should have nothing to do with us.  But he comes to us anyway in the Eucharist.  This passage reminds us that we have a need for humility and trust before Christ.  We shouldn’t feel entitled to the Eucharist, because none of us deserve it.

Now, in the Gospel, the roof thing makes sense, because he’s talking about a roof over a house.  In our case, we’re not literally asking the Lord to physically enter our houses.  I mean, I feel bad enough cleaning up when my parents come, but if the Son of God were to come?  Yikes!  The house we’re speaking about here is the house, or temple, of our bodies.  He comes now as a man entering a house, but as food entering our bodies.

Rather than coming to physically heal our servants (Yes, I’m from West County, and no, I don’t have a servant), Christ is coming to do something much greater – the healing of our souls.  In a sense, receiving Holy Communion disintegrates our minor sins (venial sins).  It’s amazing: we may not be worthy, but Christ makes us worthy to receive him!

Obviously we know that we can’t be completely worthy to receive the Eucharist, but we should strive to make ourselves more worthy, especially by getting rid of any serious sins on our hearts before going to Communion.  This is pretty easy, really – going to Confession and doing little acts of penance (especially on Fridays) does the trick.  Ultimately, we trust in the mercy of God, just as that centurion did, and we can be confident that we receive the same loving response from Jesus.

Almost done with the main translation changes!  Tune in next week!