Guilt and the Eucharist

The words of the centurion, words that we say again and again at every celebration of Holy Mass, are among the truest words that we can ever utter: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

In a world where “I’m ok, you’re ok,” a world in which everyone is special and everyone wins, except for the ones that society states should not or must not, a world that, in the words of the prescient Francis Cardinal George, permits everything and forgives nothing, these words, “I am not worthy,” seem harsh. Don’t they just beat down our self-esteem and make us feel bad?

Well, a little guilt sometimes is not a bad thing. We are not worthy, not at all. We are all sinners, and we are all in need of redemption. And we cannot, as good as we are, as smart and talented as we are, save ourselves. We need the Lord Jesus to only say the word.

He is the Word, the very Word of Salvation. He and he alone can heal us, save us, make us, who are suffering in sins and fears, whole and indeed holy. He’s already said the Word to us. His Amen comes to us when he opened his arms wide on the Cross and bled and died for our sins and then gloriously rose again on the third day. He’s already said the word in our Baptism, when we were washed clean in the waters of regeneration. He’s already said the word in our yes to come and follow him in our discernment and formation. He’s already said the word when we receive him substantially present in the Eucharist.

All we have to do is say those words, recognizing that God is God and we are not and that, in humility, we need him. All we have to do is then begin to live his life in us. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” In and of ourselves, we are not worthy. But the Word makes us worthy to receive him under these fleshly roofs of ours. Praise God for his mercy.

Rev. John P. Cush, STD About Rev. John P. Cush, STD

Fr. John P. Cush, the Editor-in-Chief of Homiletic and Pastoral Review, is a professor of Dogmatic Theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in the Archdiocese of New York. He is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Fr. Cush holds the Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy. He is the author of The How-to-Book of Catholic Theology (OSV, 2020), Theology as Prayer (IPF, 2022) and is a contributor to Intellect, Affect, and God (Marquette University Press, 2021).


  1. Avatar Esther Adam says:

    Father Cush, I understand the concept behind we are not worthy……In my mind I say I am worthy because God loved me into existence and Jesus died on the Cross so he made me worthy….that is probably not good theology but it helps me. My sense of worthy differs, I guess. Thanks!

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