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Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 19, 2017

Dec. 20: Third Wednesday of Advent

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord./ May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

The culture in which we live and breathe sometimes seems to idolize the extreme and the extraordinary. Leading an ordinary life is not enough: We have to be the best, the richest, the most widely traveled, the most successful. How easily we succumb to the allure of this myth. Sometimes our worship of superlatives leads us to question our own worth, not unlike the beleaguered George Bailey, sinking under the weight of his small-town existence in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

In those moments, we might turn to Luke’s account of the call of Mary, also known as the Annunciation. In contrast to the richly accoutered damsel of Renaissance art, who sits serenely reading as Gabriel floats through the window, the biblical Mary was a poor, unlettered peasant from an obscure Galilean village. She had nothing in the eyes of the world—no education, no status, no accomplishments. Instead, she had a radical, world-changing trust in God. This unremarkable young girl humbly offered all that she was and all that she had to serve the will of her God. And at the moment of her consent, Mary’s ordinary humanity, in all its unexceptional plainness, became one with the transcendent glory of the living God.

To walk in the footsteps of Mary is to do “small things with great love,” as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said. As we prepare to welcome the Christ child in a few days, perhaps we can recast the ordinary, even boring activities of our daily lives as ways of bearing his extraordinary grace and love into the world.

Prayer: God of all the earth and every living creature, Transform the work I undertake this day, no matter how insignificant or small it seems, into a vessel of your love. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

To hear “Dixit Maria,” by Hans Leo Hassler, click here.

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