Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder

Books, Christianity, confession, conversion, faith, Gospel, Gratitude, New Testament, peace, Prayer

What would it look like if?

what would it look like if?
What would it look like if?

What would it look like if

we treated everyone with authority and humility?

Monday’s 6am Mass at Saint Matthew’s was celebrated by Fr. Paul who issues a challenge at the end of his early Monday morning Masses. Monday’s was, “What would it look like if we treated everyone with power and humility?” Everyone: the HEB checkout person, the driver of the car that just cut us off causing us to slam on our brakes, the politician (s) who personifies all that we detest.

What would it look like?

The Gospel reading for Monday morning was one we know intimately. We repeat the words of the Roman centurion at each Mass. “I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. Just say the words and my soul shall be healed.”

It’s one of those Gospel readings that is readily visualized. Jesus in the midst of a crowd, as he always is. A woman kneeling on the ground having grabbed onto the edge of Jesus’ cloak in desperation. A Roman Centurion approaches, concerned about his servant. After watching the woman with the hemorrhage, the soldiier leaps off his horse, impelled by an irresistable power.

Before I could stop myself, I jumped to the ground and strode up to Jesus. His disciples looked annoyed, but he looked merely curious, ignoring his followers as he waited for me. I, a Roman soldier, was intent on begging for his intervention for Marius. Standing in front of him, looking into his face, I was astonished at my own great belief that this man— who resembled all others but spoke like no other— could heal Marius. “Lord, one of my servants is dying. He is grievously tormented.” His reply was instantaneous. “I will come and heal him. Show me where he lays.”

Shocked, I thought, I cannot bring him into a Roman soldier’s barracks! “Lord,” I said, “I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Like you, Sir, I am a man with authority. I have hundreds of soldiers under me. I say to this man, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Jesus looked surprised… and pleased. “Then go your way,” he said. “And as you have believed, so will it be done.” I was unsurprised when I got back to the barracks and found Marius sitting up and drinking tea. From that moment, he had been healed.

I, Claudia-A Novel of the Ancient World

Just say the word

“Do I believe that?”

“Do you believe He can heal your soul with just one word?”


At least, far too rarely. Too frequently, my mind sticks on the “I’m not worthy” part. And so I think about my fictional character Quintillus and the decision he made…the gigantic risk the man took. A Centurion commanded at least 100 Roman soldiers–recognizable in his bright crimson and feared by many. Yet he cared enough about his servant to beg.

All of which takes me back to my conversion; how abrupt it felt but the reality was that I’d been searching for God from the moment I first walked away. Just like you and each of the almost 8 billion souls on earth.

Bishop Barron calls it the invasion of grace. A splendid and perfectly fitting phrase for us converts and reverts. If you’ve an extra fifteen minutes, listen to his homily embedded in that phrase.

Back to Quintillus though, conversions like his, mine and yours are not one-time-events. In fact, at times it’s minute by minute for me. Especially when I forget to race back to Jesus when I’ve fallen, yet again. Gossiped or complained or given into one of the dizzying arrays of sinful pleasures a mere finger tip away. During those times, the self-disgust can take on the weight of an avalanche as it rolls faster and faster, collecting more and more of my past sins. Until…

In the letter of Paul to the Romans, the saint writes, “The law came in order to increase offenses; but despite the increase of sin, grace has surpassed it, so that, as sin reigned through death, grace may reign by way of justice leading to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Think about that first phrase for a moment or a lifetime: “the law came to increase offenses…”

On the altar at Saint Matthews, there are long sheets of advent purple hanging on each side of the massive crucifix. A twisted purple ribbon emerges from each and drapes over the crucified Christ. It evokes Father John Riccardo’s Christ as the “ambush predator.”

The divine child soon to be born

is a warrior. “God became a man to fight, to rescue us, to get his creation—you—back. He landed on earth in order to vanquish the enemy, but here’s the challenge: the enemy won’t fight God. Satan isn’t stupid. Satan knew he couldn’t beat God and wouldn’t try, so God designed a plan: a plan he knew would involve piercing, nails, and a cross. Then he hid himself as a man. And he waited…Jesus on the cross is not the poor, helpless victim, and he is not the hunted. Jesus on the cross is the aggressor and the hunter.”

It’s all true: we’re sinners, all of us. Even the best of our good works are nothing in the abyss of a majestic love we cannot comprehend. Our Lord told many of the saints that we are far worse than we can possibly imagine. And yet, Holy Father God sends us His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.

In the manner of the centurion, you also must say, “I am not worthy to receive You; I merit nothing; I am an abyss of weakness and cowardice; I make resolutions and do not keep them; I fall over and over again. But Jesus, say only one word, and my soul shall be healed.” Jesus was so delighted by the centurion’s words that he willed them to be fixed in the Liturgy of the Mass, to be forever the most perfect preparation for Communion.

I Believe in Love

I am frequently flattened

by God’s answer to prayers I don’t even know I’m praying. Because of a recent Magnificat meditation, I discovered an exquisite book: I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teachings of St. Therese of Lisieux.

The French priest author feels like he’s speaking directly to me with admonitions like,

“I shall come back to this, but I should like to ask you urgently, from now on, that you never let your past sins be an obstacle between you and Jesus. It is a ruse of the Devil to keep putting our sins before our eyes in order to make them like a screen between the Savior and us. Think of your past sins for your own humiliation or to persuade yourself once again of your weakness, of your unworthiness; think of them in order to find happiness in expiation, in order to confirm your firm resolution not to fall again—….Do not go looking for them at the bottom of the sea! He has wiped them out; He has forgotten them. His Blood has been shed; the flames of His mercy have done their work: they have burned up all of them, consumed them all while renewing you.”

Relying on the inspired wisdom of that very young yet very old soul of St. Therese, St. Augustine, St. John of the Cross and many others, Father Jean C.J. d’Elbee created a masterpiece worthy of reading repeatedly. Because yours and my sins emanate from the same source: lack of trust.

Jesus says, “Let me do.” But I don’t hear him.

Jesus’ whole purpose is to restore the divinity we lost through disobedience by returning us to our original perfection. But we can do nothing without him.

“Here is a sublime thought which I expressed to you in my first conference. All the merits of Jesus are mine. He covers me with His Blood. He fills my empty hands with His own virtues and transforms me into Himself. I present myself thus before the Father, and, in all justice, the Father receives me as His beloved Son.”

I Believe in Love

Post Tags :
ancient rome, centurion, father john riccardo, gospel, historical fiction, I Claudia, rescued

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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