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Maurice Timothy ReidySeptember 18, 2023
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.” (Lk 7:6)

Early in my tenure here at America, a major focus of discussion was the new English translation of the liturgy, which debuted in November 2011. We published several stories on the pending change, some of them critical.

One of the changes that critics took issue with was the prayer before Communion, which used to read: “Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Of course, we now know that prayer is taken from today’s Gospel from Luke: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

At first, I could see why some objected to the change—the new version is a little clunky. But it grew on me quickly. For one, I did not know that the original translation came from Scripture. I took “receive you” in the literal sense, as in receive Communion. I did not think of it as “receiving” a guest into your home. The new translation is far more evocative. By receiving communion, I am literally inviting Jesus into my life—not just into my life, but into my home. That is a little scary to contemplate.

We are a sinful people, our lives (and our rooms) will always be messy. But we know that all we have to do is say the word and we will be healed.

It was scary for the centurion in today’s Gospel too. He did not ask Jesus to come into his home. His slave, “who was valuable to him,” was sick, and the elders sought Jesus out to help him: “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us,” they begged.

I am sure many of us would feel unworthy if Jesus showed up at our door. When was the last time we vacuumed? Are the beds made, the toilets clean? Kids, clean up your room, Jesus is here!

It sounds somewhat ridiculous, but I think that is the point. Receiving Communion is literally, physically receiving Jesus into our lives. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we should imagine Jesus standing at our front door. Are we ready to invite him in?

The answer is, of course, no. We are a sinful people, our lives (and our rooms) will always be messy. But we know that all we have to do is say the word and we will be healed.

Come on in, Jesus. Don’t trip on the kids’ shoes.

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