Let Him enter
First, I cried.
Then, I think I threw myself a pity party or two as I am wont to do, prayed my new favorite How could you? prayer to my all-patient God, balked and wondered What on earth? And then, I accepted reality: I would be spending Christmas alone.
I was browsing through a store when I got the call—my friend, whom I'd had dinner with the night before, tested positive for COVID. It was too close to Christmas, I realized, that I couldn't safely travel home to be with my family. The roller coaster of emotions continued as the days unfolded. I said goodbye as my six housemates left one by one and settled into the rambling old convent that I've just begun to call home.
And this rambling old convent of mine just so happens to have a chapel. With the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, where I lay my head at night is two floors directly above where Jesus Himself rests, always there, always available, always waiting for me. So, no, I would not actually be spending Christmas alone.
God knows what He is about. He knows what I need before I ask; He also knows what I need before I do. It was at daily Mass the day of that fateful dinner that the responsorial psalm struck my heart: Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. Let the Lord enter. It struck me that it didn't say, Invite him in, or Seek him, or Track him down and maybe you'll convince him to come and help you, or at least pay you some attention. No. Let Him enter. Right along the lines of Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3:20). He is there, He is waiting, ready to come in. I have no need to work for Him to notice me, to present my case as worthy of His care, to make myself presentable to merit a visit from Him.
I've felt the accompaniment of Mary and Joseph in a special way these days. Perhaps they each, in their own way, made that refrain their own, too: Let Him enter. It was in effect the invitation that the angel Gabriel made to Our Lady at the annunciation. Jesus was ready to come into the world, but only to a willing and open vessel. Let it be done to me was her graceful reply. And I've prayerfully imagined Joseph's growing desperation as he searched, in vain, for a warm and safe place for his wife to give birth. I picture knock after knock, the compounded rejection, Joseph's shame and fear and embarrassment mounting. Perhaps he wiped away a tear or two, trying to hide his emotion from Mary. But that invitation must have echoed in his own heart: Let Him enter. God was inviting Joseph to get swept away in the divine drama, to embrace the seemingly preposterous scene where He arranged for His Son to come into the world.
And that preposterous scene has given me such consolation. God came not just as a baby, but as a baby into abject poverty and complete obscurity, turned away before He even made His entrance into the world, laid where beasts of burden feed. Jesus is not averse to the poverty, the desolation, the desperation of my heart. In fact, that's where He longs to be. "Christ came to live with the poor and the homeless and the dispossessed of this world," wrote Dorothy Day. "So let us keep poor—poor as possible—then it will be easier for us to have God in our hearts."
Poor I am, in many ways. I'm lonely and unsure and still recovering from the events that have turned my life upside down. But that is not a surprise to Jesus, not a scandal. It does not turn Him away but rather urges Him to rush to my side, to beckon me to welcome Him, to knock like a madman at the door of my pitiable heart.
Let me enter is His insistent call, full of love and tenderness and care.
All it takes is a yes.