Today we hear the origin of the prayer we repeat three times at every Mass: Domine, non sum dignus, sed tantum dic verbo…. “Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word…” These are the words of a Roman centurion who believed that Christ could heal his servant. Jesus declared that nowhere in Israel, not even among his own chosen people, has he found such faith.

We must confess that we Catholics often lack the faith of good non-believers, just as Yahweh’s Chosen People had lost much of their faith in Him. I’m not only referring to the recent surveys indicating that most self-professed Catholics do not believe in the Eucharist. I also mean all of us in this church today. If we give into sadness or anger, it is simply because we have lost faith in the God of all providence. We have forgotten that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He is the divine physician. We have lost faith in the Holy Eucharist as the most essential medicine given to man. We do not receive Him, or we do not receive Him with faith, because if we did, we would never lose our joy. Christ is sufficient for us!

The centurion had asked for a healing, and yesterday about 15,000 of us were asking for a healing: healing for our country. It’s been 49 years since the Supreme Court declared a so-called right to kill an innocent human being. We are sick of hearing about it, but since the problem has not yet been resolved, I have to say that abortion is a cancer that is killing our nation. But we are healing, by the grace of God.

Among the speakers in our annual Walk for Life West Coast yesterday was Christi Davenport, a young woman with Downs Syndrome, which limited her ability to articulate. She spoke haltingly but with great intensity about her struggle to be accepted in American society as an imperfect human being. Christi described her life’s achievements, which would be considered limited by the cool kids: graduation from high school, becoming a junior college drama teaching assistant, and now a teachers’ aide at a Catholic school. Unlike most people with Downs, she was able to marry, but her husband tragically died last year. Struggling to articulate her love of life and gratitude to God, she told us: “most think people with Downs Syndrome can’t do much of anything. But we’re really good at love!”

So true, as you know if you’ve ever been around a person with Downs. They have the gift of natural affection and understanding love. They are so human. The current law allows a baby with Downs to be killed rather than live a “life not worth living,” in the words Hitler’s eugenicists. Human illnesses and disabilities, to those who want to control everything, are a horror that must be eliminated. For Christians, though, human weakness is a mystery that God permits, for a greater purpose that we come to realize in its own time….

 The above comes from the Jan. 24 segment of the blog of Father Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco.