Advent is my favorite season of the liturgical year. But all the liturgical seasons are different for me now than when I was in consecrated life. The hustle and bustle, invitations, social expectations, shopping for gifts…it’s a far cry from the quiet preparation I had become accustomed to. It can be a challenge even to find time for a few moments of prayer each day.
How is it possible to make myself worthy of celebrating Christmas when I can’t enter into Advent the way I want to?
The good news is: I don’t need to make myself worthy. In fact, I cannot make myself worthy.
Even if I am faithful to my Advent meditation every day. Even if I dutifully light the colored candles of my wreath. Even if I resist materialism and put up my Christmas tree at the “proper” time. Even if I put a piece of hay in a little manger for every sacrifice, making it soft for Jesus.
Even if I do all of this, as good as it may be, I cannot make myself worthy of Christmas. I don’t earn the right to celebrate the Incarnation by behaving well during Advent. Jesus alone can make me worthy!
On Monday of the first week of Advent, we heard the Gospel of the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus makes it known that he will go and heal the servant, the centurion protests, in words that have become very familiar to us:
“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).
We make those words our own at every Mass. And we can make them our own this Advent. I am not worthy to receive Christ anew this Christmas, but at HIS word, I shall be healed.
If you’re struggling with spiritual perfectionism or discouragement because this Advent has not quite been what you had hoped, be very much encouraged! The Lord meets us in our weakness. He comes not a perfect humanity, but a sinful one. He comes to redeem us, not expecting us to have already redeemed ourselves.
As we enter into these final days of Advent, let us dispose our hearts to the action of Jesus. Even if we haven’t done all that we had hoped this season. Let us remember that it is Jesus who does the doing. We offer Him our feeble efforts and wait with HOPE for the only one who can make us worthy.