St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Lord, I am not worthy"

“Often there are people who do not give much thought to religion or God until the going really gets tough, even desperate. Then they go crawling. I have turned to God for the first time in my life because of very difficult circumstances that sometimes feel unbearable. But I think I may be unworthy in God's eyes because prior to this I had no use for religion and even snubbed it when others expressed religious beliefs. Can this be overcome?”

To the anonymous blogger who posted these comments recently, I would say that, yes, your thoughts of unworthiness can be overcome. A good starting point might be to meditate on the story of the centurion (Lk 7) who, most likely, would fall into the category of those who “do not give much thought to religion or God until the going really gets tough, even desperate”. He is desperate to find someone who can save a servant of his who “was valuable to him” (v. 2) and was dying. As Jesus was approaching his house, the centurion sent his friends to tell him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof… say the word and let my servant be healed” (v. 6-7).

Jesus was “amazed” at his faith, and rewarded it by healing the servant. Our Lord did not focus on the fact that the centurion was a Gentile or dwell on how little thought he might have given to religion or God. He focused on the present moment, and that the centurion was showing great faith in Jesus and in his power to heal.

We say the words of the centurion before we receive the Eucharist each time: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”. None of us is worthy to have Jesus “enter under (our) roof”. We are aware of that but not overcome by that. If we find ourselves overcome with unworthiness, then we should simply remember the command of Jesus to receive the Eucharist: “take this, all of you, and eat it”.

It might help us all to think about the strongest human relationship in our own lives. Have we ever felt particularly unworthy of this relationship? Was it because of sins in prior relationships? Did these thoughts of unworthiness prevent us from going forward in the relationship? The answer to the last question is ‘no’ for a variety of reasons – one of the most important ones is confidence. The more time we spend with the person and are committed to the relationship, the more confident we are in the relationship.

The same is true with our relationship with Christ. The Church herself says that “it’s not about a religion; it’s about a person”. That person is Jesus Christ. It’s all about a relationship with Christ, especially in the Eucharist. We are not worthy to enter into relationship with Him, but the more time we spend with Him and the more we are faithful to Him, the more confident we are in the relationship.

Finally, Anon, you mention about those who “go crawling” to God. Here’s an inspiring story (posted by an anonymous blogger) about a woman who literally has crawled to the Eucharist:

Valencia, Aug 28, 2008 / 01:42 am (CNA).- The Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly in Chissano (Mozambique) took into their home this week a 25 year-old African young girl named Olivia, who despite not being baptized at the time and not having any legs, crawled 2.5 miles every Sunday to attend Mass.

According to the AVAN news agency, the nuns said that one day, they saw “something moving on the ground far away,” and when they drew near they saw, “to our surprise, that it was a young woman.”

“We were able to talk to her through a lady who was walking by and who translated into Portuguese what she was saying to us” in her dialect, they said.

The sisters said that although “the sand from the road burned the palms of her hands during the hottest times of the year,” the young woman crawled to Mass, “giving witness of perseverance and heroic faith.”

The young woman received baptismal preparation from a catechist, who periodically visited her at home. After she was recently baptized, one of the benefactors of the sisters donated a wheel chair for Olivia.


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