This reading tells us of an extraordinary healing, one that does not even require being “on location” as it were, but can be accomplished from afar; one that does not require medicine of any kind other than the administration of the Healing Word, and one could guess, it would be effective anywhere in the world. If only each and every one of us had this power! Or even the faith of the Centurion, who is able, on behalf of his beloved servant, to confidently beseech Christ to “speak but one Word,” to work transformatively through the creative power of speech to heal what ails.
Human beings are speaking all the time—all day long—save for when we are asleep. (Even then sometimes!) But this our nature: we are the word beings of the cosmos—with incredibly complex and wonderful language capacities. We make things happen with our words. In fact, any time we speak is an act of creation. But we are not always speaking out of our higher selves—speech, like everything else in human life is subject to our freedom, and it matters how we are united with ourselves when we speak. We surely do not heal with every one of the words that leaves our mouths. But we all know the feeling when we DO speak in a way that helps someone else. It strengthens our humanity, and warms our hearts. Think of Jesus’ word at another moment: “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the person, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this is what can defile the person.” (Matthew 11). In a time when spurious words and downright lies pour out of the mouths of leaders and public figures, it has never been more important for us to make our use of words into a holy undertaking.
Every human being walking the earth is in need of some kind of healing. We have been sundered from ourselves—every one of us lives in a state of separation at least some of the time. Sometimes we think of this state as being cut off from God—and it is, because if we are cut off from our spirit selves, then we are also cut off from God.
And this is why Christ came, why he took on an earthly body and existence, and lived as we live, and died as we die. He came to overcome death by uniting himself with us, to offer a new power of wholeness within the human being, to heal all of our broken places. An essential part of our healing is to realize that not only can we be healed, but we are to become healers as well. We are to learn to take up the power of the word that brings wholeness again.
The Act of Consecration of Man is a sacrament dedicated to this purpose. Our true human power is awoken, cleansed, healed—the power we use whenever we speak—our power to create and heal the world around us, between us, and within us.
Like the Roman Officer, this healing power is available to us—we have but to recognize it in freedom, and unite our selves with it, over and again, ever deeper. We can recognize the power of the sun, embodied in Christ, shining forth from the altar, and we can lift ourselves up to its rays of light, to be warmed and strengthened to become who we are meant to become, and to meet the challenges that life call us to meet.
During the service, we are invited to commune with this power. The prayers spoken in preparation of Communion reflect the faith of the Roman centurion, which we too practice, when we hear: “Sick is the dwelling into which you are entering, but through your Word, my soul becomes whole.”
Wholeness makes peace possible. We seek inner peace, and we also long to bring peace into the world. To stand at peace with the world does not mean to let the world go by without engaging it. Rather, it is to be able to stand, and to bear witness to all that happens in the world, and increasingly, to offer something new into the progress of the world out of ourselves—as witnesses, and as servants of the healing Word.