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What Is the ‘Word’?


A caller has a question about one saying during Mass: “After the priest has prepared the Eucharist, [the congregation] says, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.’ So it hit me … Is there literally a word that I should be saying? What does that mean?”

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Father Dave responds: “There are two answers to your question. One is the common parlance of the phrase and how it’s used… Have you ever heard anybody use [the phrase ‘say the word’] in a different context?

“If you’re going through a rough time and one of your best friends says, ‘If you need me to drop what I’m doing and come over … just say the word, I’ll be there.’ If you look up the actual phrase in a phraseology dictionary, it says, ‘This phrase is used for telling someone that you are ready to do something for them as soon as they ask.’ So, what we’re saying is that we believe that, just for the asking, Jesus makes us whole. And we say that at that point in the Mass because we’re repeating words from a scene in the Gospel.”

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Father Dave explains that, while the old translation of the Roman Missal used the phrase, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” which draws more of a connection to the impending reception of the Eucharist, the new translation — “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” — directly quotes a story in the Gospel: “We’re taking that exchange from one of the scenes in the Gospels, where [a Roman centurion] approaches Jesus, and he is far away from where he lives, but he says his [servant] is sick back at home. … Jesus is [considering making the long trip to see her], but the [centurion] says, ‘No, no, no — I have such faith in you that you don’t have to come to my house. … I’m not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But I have such faith in you that I believe that if you were to say the word, she will be healed, even without you coming to my house.’ So, it’s a statement of great faith in Jesus’ power to heal that we [as a congregation] are repeating it in that same way right before we receive Communion.” (Original Air 08-24-17)