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Only Say the Word

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralysed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8.5-8.

It’s become part of our everyday speech, hasn’t it? “You only have to say the word and I’ll be there.” “You only have to say the word and I’ll phone her.” But here, in the original use of the expression, “the word” is the dynamic, irresistible, word of Jesus … the word of the Lord. And Psalm 33.6 tells me all about that word: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.”

Somehow, the Roman soldier in this morning’s reading had made something of that connection between the word of the one who called the universe into being and the word of the Rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus, who was standing there, right in front of him. So … “What need is there for you to come to my house,” he says. “When you speak, your word carries the weight of God Almighty so it cannot fail to achieve what it commands. Time and space are irrelevant. Your word carries within itself the performance of what it speaks.”

In the beginning God said “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1.3). In the Hebrew, his words were yehiy ‘or which were translated into Latin as fiat lux. This is the “divine fiat” — the word of God that is charged with creative and restorative power and energy. As the Lord himself puts it: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55.10-11).

Throughout the gospels, we hear that word going out of Jesus mouth, never failing to accomplish that which he purposes, and always succeeding in the thing for which he sends it. “Talitha cumi,” he says to the lifeless body of Jairus’ daughter — “Little girl, I say to you, arise,” and immediately the girl gets up and begins walking (Matthew 5.41). “Lazarus, come out,” he shouts in the Bethany Cemetery and “the man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth” (John 11.44).

So what do I want Jesus to say to me today? What is the divine fiat that I need to restore me to what God wants me to be and to enable me to fulfil the purposes he has for me?

“Lord … only say the word.”

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4 comments on “Only Say the Word

  1. Grace Kim says:

    Good morning Neil,
    I came about your blog as I was searching for the meaning behind the passages in Luke which state that Mary “stored up all these things in her heart”.
    I see that you have stopped blogging in 2009…what made you stop?? I have read two blog posts so far and I feel that the Lord is truly speaking through you.
    I hope you reconsider coming back to the blogging world!!

    Have a blessed Sunday.
    Grace Kim
    La Habra, CA

    Like

    1. Neil says:

      Hi Grace, Thank you for your kind words. I stopped blogging because my health wasn’t good and the daily writing session had become something of a burden rather than a joy. However, I am now prayerfully considering a return to Pass The Toast – encouraged as I am by brothers and sisters like yourself.

      Like

  2. Grace says:

    Hello Neil!
    I hopeyou do come back to blogging but if not, I plan on reading through your previous posts 🙂

    God bless you.
    Grace Kim

    Like

  3. Fred says:

    O MERCIFUL God, giver of life and health; Bless, we pray thee, thy servant, Neil, and those who administer to him of thy healing gifts; that he may be restored to health of body and of mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Like

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