26 February 2007

Lord I am not worthy

This evening during a Holy Hour I delivered a talk that I titled, "Lord, I Am Not Worthy: Tried and True Methods to Experience the Eucharist More Profoundly." Thirty minutes of private adoration took place prior to the Holy Hour which ended up being really more a Holy Forty-five Minutes. I suppose my sense of time is not quite as good as I should like to think.

I was surprised and delighted to see fifty to sixty people present when the servers and I entered at the beginning of the Holy Hour.

I have posted the more interesting first half of my talk below:

So often in our lives we feel distracted at Mass, preoccupied and busy elsewhere. We have a difficult time keeping our focus and concentration on the “here and now” of the Eucharistic Celebration and thus we do not feel that we “get anything” out of the Mass. In reality, we receive the greatest gift that could be given us: Jesus Christ himself. We receive the pledge and foretaste of everlasting life. The trouble is this: we do not recognize his presence, more often than not because we have not prepared ourselves to welcome him into hearts with love.

Just before we receive Holy Communion, we repeat the words of the Centurion: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed” (Matthew 8:8). We have adapted the words a bit in our English translation, but nonetheless the meaning is the same. The first step to experiencing the Holy Mass more profoundly, more deeply, is to recognize that we are, in fact, not worthy to be here, to be in the Lord’s presence. “Because of our own human sinfulness none of us is worthy of so great a gift. Yet Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist to give us a share in his divine life.”
[1] Is this not the greatest wonder of them all? Christ Himself reminds us: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). He Who love us first longs for our love in return (cf. John 4:10).

The Lord loves us so profoundly that he calls us to be with him forever. More than this, God himself has come to us in Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in his Message for Lent that “On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us.”

As we gaze upon the Eucharistic Lord here before us on the altar, He continually calls out, “I thirst” (John 19:28). “I thirst for your love.” What, then, will our response to His thirst be? In the Gospel this morning, Jesus said to the righteous sheep, “I was thirsty and you gave me drink” and to the sinful goats he said, “I was thirsty and you gave me no drink” (Matthew 25:35, 42). The drink that Christ Jesus so earnestly desires and for which He thirsts is none other than the cup of our love.

To James and John as they argued over the place of honor, Jesus asked, “Can you drink the cup that I drink” (Mark 10:38)? That cup is the cup of divine love, the love that offers itself completely, holding nothing back, the love that He shares with the entire world. This is the love that loves “to the end.”

It is this same cup that we are to take up ourselves and offer to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom we are one. The Holy Father put it this way:

The response that the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.[3]
We are called to be the source of love to quench the thirst of the Lord Himself and of our brothers and sisters. “Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source [of love], which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God (cf. John 19:34).”[4] How, then, are to take up this cup of love? How are we to allow this cup to overflow in every area of our lives? We must come to the Eucharist. “Above all, the Eucharist is the great school of love. When we participate regularly and with devotion in Holy Mass, when we spend a sustained time of adoration in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it is easier to understand the length, breadth, height and depth of his love that goes beyond all knowledge (cf. Ephesians 3:17-18).”[5]

[1] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist (14 November 2006).
[2] Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2007.
[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2007.
[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, 7).
[5] Pope Benedict XVI, Message to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the 22nd World Youth Day, 2007.