Today’s Advent Reading:
USCCB — December 5th
23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” – the Gospel of Luke
Note: My Religion Tutor should read no further.
I am going to let you in on my secret shame: My junior paper for Religion is due in a week and I haven’t really started. It’s not that I haven’t started at all, but that I haven’t really started. Sure, I went to Lamont and got some books, I scrolled through JSTOR for a while, and I opened a word document and set it to double-spaced Times New Roman. The thing is I just haven’t started filling that word document with words yet.
So, I have started. I just haven’t really started.
The shameful part of this whole situation isn’t just the terrible paper that I will certainly end up churning out two days before the deadline. No, the really shameful part is that it would have been so easy for me to do better. It’s not like I don’t have the means to do good work, and it’s definitely not like I don’t have the technology. Every book, map, or painting I could ever want is available through HOLLIS, and I have a laptop with access to every article or citation-making website I could ever need. Every member of the Harvard College class of 1900 would kill to have all the academic advantages that an immense digital library system and Google give me. I just don’t have the will to try to do better, to start earlier, or even to make my own citations. Indeed, I have the desire to do these things, but when it comes right down to actually doing them, that desire to act passes away.
Now I am going to let you in on my other secret shame: I have been alive for twenty-two years, and I haven’t really started to live a Christian life. It’s not like I haven’t started at all. I go to Mass, I teach CCD, and I try to pray. It’s just that, again, I haven’t really started. Though I am well on my way to being “good enough,” I am very far from being perfect as my Father in Heaven is perfect.
The desire to be better is there, but when an opportunity to act on that desire presents itself, I am not strong enough to act on it. So I give in to those same temptations time and again, and I am jealous and cruel and “bad” in every possible way. I might pray to God to be made perfect, but like St. Augustine I also hope he holds off on that request for a while.
I am aware of this shame all the time.
But I am especially aware of it during Advent, because, like I know how much the Harvard class of 1950 would kill to have had the WiFi I have, I know there are many who lived and died awaiting the Messiah. I know there are many who would act upon every opportunity to follow Him that I squander. I know there were many prophets and kings who waited and waited to be servants for a master who was not to come to them. I know that, for whatever reason, this master allowed Himself to be born as a human child, to live a human life, and to die a painful human death to allow me, as undeserving as I am, to come to Him.
This fact makes Advent both joyful and shameful. I know He is coming to me, but I also know that time and again I will fail to come to Him.
Tess Fitzsimmons ’19 is a History and Literature and Religion joint concentrator in Lowell House.