“Imagine,” he said, “that I asked you to share your lunch with me today …
“If I said that Mrs Davenport, our housekeeper, has gone away suddenly and has not prepared Sunday lunch. So instead of staying at home alone with a piece of bread and ginger marmalade, I’d come home with you after Mass and share your meal with you.
“What would you think?”
He waited patiently for a few seconds.
“Would you think … Oh no … I haven’t had time to clean the house. It’s in a right state and I don’t want him to see it this way!
“Or … Not today, without prior notice … All we have at home is a few eggs and some bread …
“What other reasons would cross your mind, I wonder, to stop me from visiting you unannounced?”
After a few seconds’ pause he continued.
“In today’s Gospel we read about a Roman Centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. And when Jesus agrees and makes his way towards the house the soldier says, ‘I am not worthy that you come into my house …’
“He doesn’t stop Jesus because the house is not clean, or because he has nothing to offer Him by way of refreshments … He says that he is not worthy to have Jesus visit him.
“He is a Roman Officer, a member of an occupying army with many soldiers under his command. He has power over many men and territory. Yet, he does not feel worthy enough to have such an eminent person as Jesus visit his home.
“He goes on to say ‘Just say the word and my servant will be healed!’
“What Faith, from someone who supposedly should have no Faith at all in Jesus! After all, Jesus was considered by the Romans as just another Jew in this occupied land ... nothing special.
“He says to Jesus, ‘I trust you enough and in your power, that you only have to say it, and my servant will be well.’
“And of course Jesus heals the servant without visiting the house.”
Father Ignatius stopped for a few moments once again.
“I wonder if we have similar Faith!” he asked.
“Do we trust Jesus enough to believe that He will listen to our prayers? Or do we harbor some doubts in our minds?
“Are we worthy to have Him visit us in our homes? Or will He be shocked by the cobwebs in every corner of our soul?
“And when we come forward for Holy Communion, and repeat the Centurion’s words, do we really mean them? I am not worthy to receive You ... ... ...
“Or do we hide the cobwebs of sin in our very souls? For make no mistake about it. This is what Communion is … Jesus abiding within your very soul.
“And if there’s sin hidden in our hearts … then we are not worthy indeed to receive Him.”
MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES HERE