The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

24th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Mon, 09/18/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

I find that some people, when they say “I am not worthy” are engaging in false humility.
They deny the truth of their giftedness, their value, their importance, their blessings.
Their self-assessment is based on a different standard
than the common standard used by those around them.
 
I also find that some people who say “I am worthy”
are operating out of distorted notions as to what constitutes worthiness.
They don’t see a lack of merit in themselves that is obvious to others.
They justify their self-assessment according to their own wants and to feelings of being superior to others.
Instead of saying “I am worthy because of the goodness of God within me”
they say “I am worthy because I am far above others.”
Attached to this particular misunderstanding of worthiness is contempt for others.
 
The centurion who seeks Jesus’ help assess his own unworthiness correctly.  He is a Gentile.
He has worked close enough with the Jewish people to know their religious law.
He knows….according to Jewish law he is unclean
and any Jew who comes in contact with him…any Jew who enters his home, becomes unclean.
He also knows what is required of a Jewish person to regain ritual purity.
 
Knowing from his own personal experience what it means to have and exercise authority,
he acknowledges that Jesus has been given authority over sickness and death.
He concludes rightly that this authority comes from God.
He also knows from personal experience that his word ‘holds sway’
when it comes to applying his authority, when it comes to using his authority.
He had to speak, he had to be heard, if his authority was to have any effect.
 
I imagine the centurion’s communication to Jesus went something like this:
“I would be honored to have you in my home.  I would consider it a great blessing.
But I am unworthy, my home is out of bounds, for a faithful Jew like yourself.
And yet I need your help.  I want your help.  You are the only one who can save my slave from death.
You don’t have to be physically present to exercise your authority.
So just speak the word and your authority will have the desired effect.
Your word will banish sickness and death.  Your word will restore my slave to life.”
 
Jesus acknowledges the centurion’s assessment of things as faith.
It is not blind faith.  It is based on awareness, knowledge, and understanding.
The centurion is aware of how God has been acting through Jesus…
restoring sight to the blind, restoring the lame and crippled to health, healing the sick,
raising the dead to life.
He concludes: “what you have done for others you can do for my slave”.
 
When we say at communion time “I am not worthy”
we acknowledge that our heart is out of bounds because we are sinners.
Our home, the home we call ourselves, is unclean because of sin.
Our faith assures us, based on how God acts through Jesus Christ,
that sin is forgiven by God’s word and not by anything we can do in and of ourselves.
It is our Catholic belief that authority to forgive sins is given to the apostles and their successors.
And they speak the word of forgiveness in Jesus’ name and for the sake of salvation.
 
We invite Jesus into our hearts because he is the only one who can save us from the death of sin.
Every time we receive the Eucharist we are restored, we are given new life.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, even though sin makes us unworthy, You are willing to come into our lives.  Through Jesus Christ, you save us from death.  You raise us up to new life.  May he find in our hearts a faith that hears and acts upon His word.  Amen!