“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” (Communion Rite)

Across the English-speaking world, people are stumbling through a new translation of the Mass, relearning phrases and prayers that have been in place for decades. More than a few people have exchanged sheepish glances as they have caught themselves saying something like: “And also with your Spirit!”

But this new translation includes a response that points us more directly to today’s Gospel reading than the previous translation did. Just before communion, we join the centurion in today’s Gospel reading, telling the Lord that we are unworthy to receive him and that we believe in his power to heal.

When you say this prayer at Mass, you may find yourself focusing on how unworthy you are to receive such a precious gift as the body and blood of Christ. But look closely at today’s Gospel, and a different focus comes into view. Jesus didn’t respond at all to the centurion’s statement about how unworthy he was. Instead, he commended the man for his faith! Jesus could have reminded him that because he was a pagan he was outside of God’s covenant with Abraham—in much the same way as he first spoke to a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:22-28). But instead, he was deeply touched by this man’s confi­dence in Jesus’ power to heal—even from a great distance.

What a huge encouragement this is! Yes, we should acknowledge our unworthiness as we come to com­munion, but we don’t have to dwell on it. Rather, like the centurion, we should move right ahead to proclaim our faith. We can tell Jesus that we know he has the power to heal our souls, the power to help us over­come negative thought patterns, the power to free us from the burdens of the past. We can tell him that we believe that he is our Redeemer, that he loves us, that he wants to fill us with his grace. We can tell him that we want to follow him all the days of our lives.

Let’s focus on what God can do when we place our trust in him.

“Lord, I believe that you have the power and authority to do all things. Help me to come to you with increasing faith every time I take communion.”

Lamentations 2:2,10-14,18-19 Psalm 74:1-7,20-21