We hear the centurion in today’s Gospel say, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, only say the Word and [my servant] will be healed”. Of course we recognize these words, as we share them gazing upon our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at Holy Mass. They are beautiful words for us to consider; they are a sign we share of a deep faith in the healing powers of the Eucharist; of recognition of our own unworthiness in the Presence of God. It’s important for humility’s sake that we recognize our unworthiness, as it makes even greater what we are given by God. We can’t live there, and if we do, we will never fully respond to the grace given us by God. We are all unworthy – but we need to get over that otherwise we will never do what we’re called or meant to do in life.
I’m very blessed to have had a mentor and dear friend, Fr. Paschal Breau who shared with me the joy of his own priesthood and Life in Christ. We spoke about this very topic many times. Little did I ever know that I would step into his shoes one day, the shoes of a Vocation Director. He was the Vocation Director for his religious community for nearly 40 years and shared with me one of his greatest disappointments was when men would not fully discern a religious vocation (priesthood or religious life) because they felt too unworthy. As much as anyone; Spiritual Director or Vocation Director might impress this point upon them – they would not come around and eventually would move on.
I have met those men too. And it is a great disappointment for me as a Vocation Director to have men walk away from what I believe would be a fulfilling life and true vocational path because they don’t felt and won’t feel worthy. Worthiness is not a pre-requisite for any vocation; a desire to be worthy is. None of us are or ever will be worthy of what God calls us to do in the Name of His Son, Jesus Christ: but He calls us all the same. If we place our focus and attention on our unworthiness we create for ourselves an obstacle to our vocational discernment.
Should a husband ever feel truly worthy of the woman he marries and loves as his wife? Does he ever say I really deserve her? No, because to say such a thing somehow shows he loves himself more than her. Acknowledging the gift God has given him in the woman he loves, he is called to love her as a Gift from God with his whole heart, mind and soul and in doing so, he worthies himself towards that gift.
On this glorious Advent day, may each one of us consider our own unworthiness, but in gratitude first for the Lord our God has chosen not to call those who are worthy, but if we stay close to Him as Disciples, He worthies the called!