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Relating to three figures from the Gospels, Tina Mayeux considers how feelings of unworthiness can help lead us to deeper humility and conversion of heart.

With the holiday bustle descending upon us, and with lots on my mind and my to-do list, I sought solace in an unoccupied local church in the middle of the day. It was a welcome respite from the chaos that all too often can be the days leading up to Christmas. In the stillness and silence, I also recalled my faults, my imperfections, and my failures to accomplish goals and reach the expectations I had set for myself. For many busy mothers, feelings of failure and doubt can creep in when all the items on our gift lists are not checked off and our homes are not Instagram-perfect. We may fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other moms who seem to have it all together. At these times, we feel unworthy, as though we are “not good enough.” 
At times like this, when I go to prayer, I am drawn to sit in the very last pew at church or in the Adoration chapel, as I did on this particular day. It is feelings of unworthiness that hold me back and prevent me from coming near to the tabernacle. I feel hesitant to approach the Lord, truly present and majestic in the Blessed Sacrament. I know that He loves me, but aware of my weakness and frailty, as opposed to His perfection, I choose the last pew. Sitting in the back of the church, I can relate to several figures in the Gospels who also felt unworthy to approach Jesus. 



One person I feel a connection to is the woman in Matthew’s Gospel who sought a cure from her 12-year hemorrhage. When I am in the presence of Christ, I am struck by His awesome power and, at times, fear to come too close. Like the woman with the hemorrhage, I am convinced of His omnipotence and the fact that He can do all things. I realize if I simply touch the tassel of His cloak, Jesus will bless me and I can be healed. In the Gospel, the afflicted woman did not approach Jesus directly; instead, she came up behind Him and simply touched His cloak. Was she afraid to meet Him face-to-face? Often I, too, hesitate and hold back from being close to Jesus. I take my place in the back pew because I realize I am not worthy to approach Him, who is all goodness and perfection. 
In my heart, I know and firmly believe in God’s love and trust in His infinite compassion towards us. However, I also remember the parable of the tax collector, who stood off at a distance in the temple area and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13) Unlike the proud Pharisee, the tax collector went home justified, as he realized his own unworthiness. From my position in the very last pew of the chapel, I ask Jesus to help me to be more like the humble tax collector. I ask Him to give me humility of heart and wisdom. I ask Him to help me to be a better wife and mother to my family and to release me from the faults and sins that prevent me from serving Him completely.  

Each time we prepare to receive Holy Communion, we pray the words, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” In doing so, we echo the words of the centurion in Matthew 8:8, who trusted Jesus to heal his son from a distance. As a result, Jesus expressed His approval of the centurion’s humility. I am comforted to know that He looks tenderly on us when, like the centurion, we acknowledge our weakness and imperfections. 

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I know that Jesus loves me, but aware of my weakness and frailty, as opposed to His perfection, I choose the last pew.


Feeling unworthy can lead us to deeper examination of our sins and faults and can bring us to a deeper conversion of heart. None of us is worthy of the great gift of forgiveness and salvation that God offers us through His Son, Jesus. However, we believe in His great love in spite of our sinfulness and trust that He welcomes us with open arms when we repent and ask for mercy. During this Christmas season when we welcome the Child Jesus, may we believe in His mercy and know in our hearts that He loves us immensely in spite of our weakness and faults. 



Copyright 2023 Christina Mayeux
Images: copyright 2023 Christina Mayeux, all rights reserved.