~ Luke 1.26-27
One of my favorite songs in the Stephen Schwartz musical “Pippin,” revived on Broadway not long ago, is “Extraordinary.” Chafing at the dull tasks of manorial life, the young prince Pippin, Charlemagne’s son and heir, laments, “Oh, it's hard to feel special, it's hard to feel big, Feeding the turtle and walking the pig.” He wishes to change the world on a grand scale, not in the mundane details of daily living.
The metaphor of “walking the pig” reminds us that the truly extraordinary life is not the one lived “in superlatives” that Pippin seeks, but the life in which we do the best we can to follow the will of God, however unexceptional our circumstances. The Annunciation is a case in point. Mary of Nazareth is a poor, uneducated village girl—not a likely candidate, by our lights, for an important assignment. But the God of the Bible repeatedly displays a preferential option for the improbable. So it is to this “nobody” that the master of the paradox, the LORD of the reversal, sends Gabriel; and it is this “nobody” who senses through her fear that she faces a life-defining moment.
Mary offers herself, in all her ordinariness, fully and without hesitation to God. And in the beat of an angel’s wing, in the breath of a human word, this insignificant peasant girl becomes the “handmaid of the LORD,” God’s essential partner in the mystery of salvation. Today we are called, like Mary, to offer ourselves, ordinary people that we are, as instruments of His extraordinary grace in the world.
LORD of glory, Incline my ear to hear your call and my heart to respond readily to your direction. Amen.
For today’s readings, click here.
To hear “Extraordinary,” click here.