Monday, September 17, 2012

You're so vain

The classic Carly Simon song comes to mind as I think about the prayer from mass taken from today's gospel.
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word...

Taken out of context we can we so vain that we think the prayer is about us and our unworthiness. If, however, we look at it in its context we see that the prayer isn't about us but the power of Jesus and the power of his word.

The centurion who comes to Jesus explains:
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes;
and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes;
and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it."

He understands the power of words, his own words, but more importantly the words of Jesus. He doesn't need Jesus to jump around or even touch the sick man. So certain is he of the power of the words of Jesus.

When we consecrate the Eucharist we repeat the words of Jesus and before we receive the body and blood of Christ we repeat the words of this centurion in imitation of his faith. As Jesus says of him

"I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."

As the centurion trusted that the words of Jesus could heal so we trust in the words of Jesus to transform mere bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Remember the first word of the prayer is not "I" it's "Lord". Jesus calls; we respond. Jesus gives; we receive. As a priest I may say the words, but it is God who consecrates.

Listening to some of our modern hymns, to borrow from Carly

We're so vain we prob'ly think that church is about us.

The centurion today reminds us that it's always really about Jesus. When the choir is bad and the homily is boring, and the foreign priest is hard to understand, it is still the greatest Gift in the world. Christ does come under our roof. We receive God and we are healed. Every single time.