Only Say the Word

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” – Mt 8:8

The miracle in today’s Gospel is unusual for two reasons. The healing took place without Jesus being physically present. The servant did not even have to hear Jesus speak the word. It was enough for Jesus to say the word. Moved by the centurion’s compassion for his servant and trust in God, Jesus heals from afar. Something similar happens at Mass before receiving the Eucharist when we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” We echo the centurion’s petition and seek a similar healing.

One of the most significant healings in my life happened after receiving communion some years ago. I was kneeling next to my dad. I happened to look over and noticed him grimacing in pain. I was struggling majorly with my dad about measuring up, about being enough. At that moment, I felt that burden. At the same time, I was given a glimpse of grace. I saw how Jesus was looking at him with tenderness and love, how he shared my dad’s present needs and struggles. Somehow, I began to see my dad for the first time, beyond the problems and prejudices that clouded my vision. That began a shift in the way I regarded my dad, God, and everyone I’ve encountered.

The shift continues for me today. It begins when I respond with: “Only say the word…” and involves letting go of my preoccupation with whether I am worthy or unworthy of being loved. Perhaps it includes letting Christ’s mercy and goodness pervade my heart, mind, body, and spirit. Maybe it’s saying “yes” to my dear friend Jesus who simply wants to be with me, look at me, delight in me, sit with me, hide in me, share my loneliness, burdens, self-judgment, hurt, or worries for others. Maybe it’s allowing the centurion’s faith to be my own, similar to embracing the faith passed on by my ancestors, my grandparents and my parents. Maybe it’s letting myself BE the Spirit’s dwelling place and allowing other people – those kneeling next to me and those I struggle to see Christ’s presence – to BE God’s beloved children, Christ’s favorite hiding place.

I don’t really know what happens. But trust grows in me when I cry out: “Lord … only say the word …” Grace unfolds within, empowering me to say “yes” to whatever exists “under my roof”, helping me accept a little more others as they are. And healing begins for others afar, but also in me.

Who are you worried about or struggle with? Ask for the gift and try seeing him or her through the eyes of Christ. This prayer guide may help.