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(Monday of the First Week of Advent)

A few years ago, a young man in college at the time looked at me and asked, “do you think it’s normal to feel guilty sometimes about what you’ve been given?” His question made it clear to me that he was well aware of much of how he had been blessed: by his parents, friends, through the achievements that he had accomplished, all flowing from God. I had never been asked that question before, especially by someone so young. I simply said in reply, “...you know you’re blessed. You know that your life is a gift. Just accept it as a gift and live simply, humbly...”

In part, that conversation was about our struggle with unworthiness. I recall it today in light of our Gospel reading. When the words of the Mass changed a few years ago, one of the oddest-sounding changes was the one that flows from Jesus’ encounter with the centurion. This exchange also centers, in part, around a feeling of unworthiness. We pray these words every time we celebrate Mass. It use to read, as we all know, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.” Now, the words are, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”This is a prayer that acknowledges what is about to happen; namely, the intimate encounter with God in holy communion, in reception of Eucharist. Such a gift is beyond our understanding. If we stop and think about it, we may not feel worthy for the Lord to “enter under our roof and within our mind, body, and soul.” But he comes anyway. Because he loves us.

We come here to be fed. When we leave here, we are called to feed others. The question then becomes, “will I welcome others under my roof as readily as I welcome Jesus in this sacrament?”