Posted March 28, 2007 in MH Edmonton AB:
The Joys of Being Unworthy

by Tom Kluger.

I had an experience of the mercy and love of the Lord one sleepy Monday morning. I discovered that even when I thought he was being tough with me, he was in fact being his kindest.

It was my turn on morning duty at Marian Centre, and it was a few minutes after seven. Morning duty means that there were a few little extra things I had to do: light the vigil candle by a small statue of Our Lady in the kitchen, cook the oatmeal for breakfast, and let the priest in when he arrived to celebrate Mass at our chapel.

Nothing difficult by ordinary standards, except that for me, first thing in the morning, anything that requires getting out of bed is difficult.

I was sitting by the front window, watching for the priest to arrive, and at the same time I was hurriedly praying Lauds, or morning prayer, from my Breviary.

I was given the gift of the four-volume set of the Breviary, or the Liturgy of the Hours, by my parish church when I left to join Madonna House in September, 2001. Ever since then I have prayed Lauds, Vespers, and the Office of Readings every day.

But on this difficult morning—I’d had a sleepless night—I had decided to give another whack to my snooze bar rather than get up a few minutes early in order to have plenty of time to pray Lauds. (If I could have a custom-built alarm clock, I would have the snooze bar made of titanium to handle the rough treatment I give it every morning.)

That extra nine minutes of blissful sleep left me short of time, though the way I was rushing my way through the Psalms could hardly be described as praying.

I was tired and miserable. It had been a busy time generally, with many events to attend and work projects to do, all in addition to my regular duties of running a soup kitchen. Not to mention the difficult work that goes into building community amongst the staff.

Yes, as I was rushing through the Psalms I felt tired, tired, tired. And underneath my tiredness a sneaking suspicion was beginning to grow in me: God really is out to get me, and if not to get me then at least to grind me down and leave me there choking in the dust.

Now I am not a stranger to the discernment of spirits, and I knew that nagging doubts about God’s goodness are a classic sign of the evil one at work. I should just have brushed those doubts away. Still…

I was asking myself "Why does God have to be so hard on me anyway?" And "Why does he ask so much of me when I’m at my lowest?" Even in the Scriptures I’d been reading those days, the Lord seemed to me to be coming across as rather tough.

Something I had read in The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), from the Second Vatican Council, said the opposite. It said, "For in the Sacred Books, the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them…"

Of course a dogmatic constitution issued by an ecumenical council of the Church—the highest gathering of the Church—should not be quarreled with. Still…

Suddenly the Holy Spirit breathed on me with quite a gust. He must have decided he’d had enough of my "stills." He brought to mind, in a gentle but firm way, what to my way of thinking is one of the toughest Gospel passages of all—Luke 17:7–10.

Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, "Come at once and sit down at table?" Will he not rather say to him, "Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink?"

Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded of you say, "We are unworthy servants. We have only done what was our duty."

It must have been the Holy Spirit that breathed on me that gloomy morning because I experienced these tough words of St. Luke’s as the Father’s love.

I suddenly realized that I had forgotten that God is in charge. I had been trying to do everything by my own power. In fact, it was because I had been running on my own steam, that I was running out of steam.

I had forgotten that I am a servant, an unworthy servant indeed, and it felt wonderful to be one. I was unworthy but God had called me anyway.

Jesus Christ wasn’t being hard on me; my pride in trying to do everything by my own power was. In fact, God wanted to be my strength. All I had to do was let him.

I hardly noticed when the priest’s car arrived. The doorbell rang and I sprang to my feet. I was still a little tired but it was with joy in my heart that I welcomed him and welcomed Jesus. After Mass and breakfast, while I was waiting for something, I found the time to finish Lauds.

The fog that had been surrounding my mind had been blown away, and I knew that God loves me, loves me very much indeed.


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