Thursday, April 9, 2020

Only say the Word

Daffodil & iris
leaves in lieu
of palms
This past Sunday (Palm Sunday), in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and watching Mass live-streamed from the monastery, I was particularly struck by the words the congregation says right before (in normal times) going up to receive Communion: "Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. But only say the word, and my soul shall be healed."

The reference is Matthew 8:8, in which a Roman centurion approaches Jesus, asking Him to heal his gravely ill servant. Jesus agrees to go with him, but the centurion says, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed." Jesus is stopped in His tracks by the man's humble faith, and He says (in effect): "Wow ... this outsider, this man who has no part in our religion at all, has more faith than anyone I've met so far. You're right! I don't need to go with you in person. Because of your faith, your servant will be healed."

I love the Eucharist. I love it passionately! It is so small, so unimpressive, so simple and humble. THIS is GOD, yes, that God, the God of all creation, the infinite, infinitely powerful, infinitely transcendant, infinitely knowing, the ground of all life, of all being, the source and foundation of all that exists ... that is what this little boring wafer is. God Almighty took on Himself the human condition, became incarnate in Christ Jesus the man. And now He incarnates daily, over and over again, all over the world, all that is God in this simple little wafer. He makes Himself food for us, literal food for our physical bodies, and commingles His infinite Godness with our finite humanness. Day after day after day, and why? Because God LOVES us! God loves us passionately, compassionately, deeply, and wants us to know Him and love Him and be re-made by Him, too.

But this pandemic is depriving us of the Eucharist, just when, maybe, we're feeling the most need of it. Today is Holy Thursday, and I'll be watching the Mass of the Lord's Supper online. You know that road-blues lyric: "can't squeeze sugar from the phone?" No, you can't squeeze the Sacrament from YouTube, either. And it's kind of a desolate feeling! But I am going to turn this around, and take it as a reminder that God doesn't have to visit me in person, in the flesh, to fill me with His grace, and to commingle His infinite Godness with my finite humanness.... Where my humble faith meets God's loving Word, He can only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.

On Holy Thursday night, I will miss spending time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Abbot's Chapel, as is the tradition. But instead, this year, I will go out for a midnight walk, and adore God in the sky, in His gift, like the luminous sign of a communion wafer, the just-past-full moon.

Image by Epic Images from Pixabay

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