Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.
As you know, some of the words of the Mass change frequently, depending on the liturgical season or the feast being celebrated. Other words and prayers are used at every Mass, and that’s the case with the prayer listed above. And precisely because these words become so familiar to us, it’s good to step back and think about what we are saying, what we are praying, and what the words mean.
“Only say the word, and my soul shall be healed,” are words we say every time we attend Mass. But recently, after praying those words, I found myself asking, “What exactly are we asking Jesus to heal us of?” And it occurred to me that there are lots of possible answers to that question.
Perhaps we’re asking Jesus to heal us of some irrational anxiety or fear. Perhaps we’re asking Jesus to heal us of relentless suffering and sorrow. Perhaps we’re asking Jesus to heal us of our guilt from a past indiscretion or sin. Perhaps we’re asking Jesus to heal us of some anger or bitterness we harbor towards someone. Perhaps we’re asking Jesus to heal us of a serious illness or debilitating pain.
More importantly, when we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we should ask him to heal us, to free our soul not just from the burdens of this present life, but also, from eternal, spiritual burdens — the punishment for our sins, the pains of hell that our sins so richly deserve. Despite the fact that “we are not worthy,” we approach the Holy Eucharist with confidence because we know he wants to and that he can heal us. “Whoever eats this bread will live forever,” Jesus promised his followers in his teaching about the Eucharist. (Jn 6:58)
Thomas á Kempis wrote: “O most kind, most loving Lord, whom I now desire to receive with devotion, to you I come for help. You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I am in virtue. Behold, I stand before you, poor and naked, asking your grace and imploring your mercy. Feed your hungry beggar. Inflame my coldness with the fire of your love.” (The Imitation of Christ)
So much richness to be found in those simple words, “Only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.”
Something to think about: What is there in your life that needs to be healed?