By JENNIFER BURGIN
The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith....
"Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." -- I love these beautiful words proclaimed at Mass. How small I am compared to Our Lord's greatness! How much I love the Lord and He loves me! Such words soak into my heart as I prepare for reception of the Holy Eucharist.
I am unworthy to receive Jesus under my own roof, a dwelling not always clean and tidy. I stockpile bad thoughts, stow away weaknesses, or attempt to hide my sins. Yet, the Lord sees everything I do as if I live in a glass house. Why hide my struggles, temptations, and transgressions when the Lord is ready to forgive and heal?
In today's gospel reading, the centurion stands in front of Jesus, humbled and contrite. In fact, Jesus is so impressed by the Gentile's faith that he heals his servant through word alone. No laying of hands. This is like when we receive the Eucharist. We eat and drink the body of Christ who is no longer physically present but spiritually with us. The Eucharist provides communicants with the strength to persevere through life no matter what obstacles.
Under the roof of "Our Common Home" I'm reading and reflecting on Pope Francis' new encyclical Laudato Si. I find his message on the care of the environment very thoughtfully written with excellent biblical references. I don't quite understand why some people are quick to politicize his words, misinterpreting them in a negative manner. Our environment, that is our common home, is in shambles and needs total reconstructionand preservation! Humans beings, no matter what political affiliation, have trashed, abused, and neglected Mother Earth for way too long. It's time for change on so many fronts; however, the most important first step is to make people fully aware, regardless if they believe God is the Creator, of the need to protect our environment from further destruction. The Pope is making a valiant effort to inform and spark discussion across all environmental platforms. I commend his initiative.
In light of today's gospel reading, I wonder if some people consider themselves not worthy to reduce their carbon footprint, conserve water or recycle. (In other words, indifference takes over initiative.) On the flip side, do others think they are worthy (entitled) to use and abuse the earth's natural resources, expecting an endless supply.
Pope Francis discusses the fact that environmental degradation mostly affects the impoverished in the world. I think about entrepreneurs and mega corporations utilizing their own sense of worthiness to exploit valuable land resources. The poorest of the poorare left with unclean drinking water, polluted air, toxic soil, and little chance of economic prosperity. This is socially and morally wrong. We are all unified, gloried, and linked together as God's creation. When we neglect the environment as well as other human beings, we are saying to God, "I don't care about the world or the people in it!" Sadly, I worry about how our environment will hold up for future generations.
I'd like to conclude with a passage taken from Chapter 2 of Laudato Si. It's especially poignant in relation to today's meditation. I highly recommend reading the entire encyclical from start to finish. Reflect on the following questions: How can you apply some of the Pope's ideas on care of the environment in your own life or in the life of your parish? How can you become more environmentally friendly?
"At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure. Certainly, we should be concerned lest other living beings be treated irresponsibly. But we should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst, whereby we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others. We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet. In practice, we continue to tolerate that some consider themselves more human than others, as if they had been born with greater rights."
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you under my roof. However, I am responsible for care of my common home. I love you and I praise you. This means I will respect others around me as well as the land, the water, the soil, the animals, and the plants that surround me. They are all precious gifts of your creation! Amen!
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a Lay Dominican. Please visit her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality