Modeling the centurion’s faith at every Mass

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Centurian's faith
Christ and the Centurion. Paolo Veronese | Public domain

Question: We say at Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof; but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I would like to know what is that exact “word” to be said by Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

John Tasan, Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia

Answer: The expression, “say the word” is another way of saying, “Just give the command” or “All you have to do is will it Lord and it will be done.” Hence, we need not ponder here what specific word or wording the Lord uses, it is enough that he wills to heal us. 

It helps to recall that the prayer you cite is from Scripture and we are taking up the words of the Roman centurion who had a servant that was gravely ill. When the Lord offers to go and heal him, the centurion replies, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8). The centurion then goes on to say, “For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it” (Mt 8:9). 

Thus, we see that the centurion is affirming that it is only necessary that Jesus wills the healing to take place, not that he go somewhere or say some exact words. Jesus marvels at the man’s faith and sends him forth with the assurance that the servant was healed, and so it was done. 

Msgr. Charles Pope

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. at Send questions to