When we consider the use of the scriptures in the Mass we often make the mistake of thinking only about the readings of the Liturgy of the Word. In fact each prayer and most of the dialogues between priest and people are direct quotations from scripture. This is even more evident in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 2010. (remember when we changed from “and also with you” to “and with your spirit”?)
One of the peoples’ responses that took a bit of adjusting to was the dialogue of the preparation before communion. Now we pray in the exact words of the centurion in today’s gospel reading: “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
It’s easily to forget the power of words. But we know that even a throw-away comment can cause hurt, and a gentle word of encouragement can brighten the dullest day.
The word of Jesus is powerful enough to heal the centurion’s servant. That’s a powerful word.
But let’s also take a moment to consider the words we speak to ourselves about ourselves.
Just as the words that others speak to us (and the words we speak to others) have power, so too the way we speak to ourselves about ourselves has the power to express the reality of ourselves, or to reinforce a falsity or a fantasy about ourselves.
Put simply, the way I speak to me about me has the power to make or break my day.
Of course this private conversation can go either way. At times we might glorify ourselves as if we were preaching our own eulogy. But more often we speak down to ourselves, preoccupied with our failings and imperfections and wondering if others would like or even still love us if they knew what we were really like.
Thanks be to God there is a remedy for this problem.
In order to speak truth to ourselves, we are invited to see ourselves as God sees us. God sees reality, and (thanks be to God) this reality is much more positive and hopeful than our own voices about ourselves. Facing the reality doesn’t deny our weakness and imperfection but instead takes us to a deeper level of personal knowledge and acceptance..
Because God knows us more intimately than we can ever know ourselves, God sees our full reality. While our gaze on ourselves usually stops at what have done and what we have failed to do, God (who sees every detail) loves us simply because He created us and we belong to Him. Yes we do some good things, and daily we turn away and and grasp at idols, but even these fumblings are powerless to separate us from this divine and ultimate embrace.
When we experience this gaze of love we have a choice. Do we accept our own perception of ourselves, or do we believe that God’s view might be the one to trust?
I’m for accepting God’s word over mine any day.
- Wherever you are this Monday morning, ready to head for work or study, wondering how you are going to manage all that has to be done this week, waking up in a hospital bed following surgery, preparing to bury a loved one, whatever is your reality this morning, take a moment of stillness to ask Jesus to speak a word directly to you. Now be still, and silent, and for just a minute, listen.