A listener named Leah calls into the radio show with a question: “What are we asking for when we pray, ‘Say the word, and my soul shall be healed?’”
Father Dave asks Leah if she’s expecting to hear something back. While she’s not expecting to hear anything, Leah says she feels odd because we’re asking for a word when we say that prayer. Father Dave explains that one dimension to the prayer — and others throughout the course of Mass — is that we’re asking for mercy from God. These prayers are signs of our humility.
Father Dave further explains where this specific line in the prayer comes from: “A centurion asks Jesus for the healing of his servant. Jesus agrees to go to his house, and the man says, ‘I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but I know that if you merely say the word, and my servant will be healed.’ So, we are drawing on that scriptural passage because of his great faith.” The centurion believed that Jesus didn’t even have to enter his home in order to heal his servant, Jesus could merely say a word and it would happen.
“It’s a turn of phrase. It’s not like a mystery word. What we’re meaning is, all you have to do is speak the word, and it will happen like that … We’re not asking for an exact transaction to happen at that moment. We’re not listening for a specific word, we’re expressing our confidence in our faith that God desires to heal us of whatever sins.” (Original Air 2-06-18)
Photo credit: A woman prays during a Mass at Transfiguration Church in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York City. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)