Monday of the 24th Week [I]
September 12, 2011
“Lord, … I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.” [Luke 7:7]
You recognize these words, I’m sure, from our preparation at Mass for Holy Communion. The words we currently say at this point in the Mass are not a direct quotation from its biblical source. However, in about two and a half months (beginning with the First Sunday of Advent), the words of priest and laity before Holy Communion will more closely reflect the Word of God. The priest will hold the Blessed Sacrament before the laity and say: “Behold the Lamb of God, / behold him who takes away the sins of the world. / Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” And to the priest’s words, the laity will reply: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
Humility is the foundation of the spiritual life. Nonetheless, as necessary as humility is in the Christian life—both in general, and specifically in regard to worthy reception of Holy Communion—it’s important also to recognize God’s response to a heart filled with genuine humility. This is precisely where the Lord our God wants to dwell: in a small, humble place. At the end of Summer may not seem a fitting time to reflect on the mysteries of Christmas, but on Mondays the Church reflects on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The third Joyful Mystery especially illustrates this truth, that the Lord our God wants to dwell in a small, humble place; and that He wants your soul to be such a place.
In a few weeks—on the first of October—the Church will celebrate the feast day of St. Thérèse the Little Flower. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, although her feast this year will fall on a Saturday, a morning Mass will be celebrated that day as part of our parish’s focus on vocations during October. A vocation can only flower in the seedbed of humility. If St. Thérèse were to have a motto, it might be the centurion’s words: “Lord, … I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.” Yet those human words, as foundational as they are to our lives as disciples, are as nothing compared to the Word who is our Master: that is, the Word of God who “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave….” In the Holy Eucharist, the divine Word takes an even humbler form: the form of bread and wine, so humble / so that / we small humans / may consume God. God’s humility is the means of our sharing in the divine life.