Advent, 2nd Sunday (C) • Yesterday was anything but an ordinary Saturday. After Holy Day Mass and First Reconciliation I was driving to Saturday night Mass, the only “ordinary” part of my day. The winter sun cast long shadows on the snow and suddenly felt like an extraordinary moment.
Today’s Gospel goes through a list of civil and religious leaders. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about the moment or the time when John the Baptist heard God’s call. His father Zacheriah had an angel visit him at work. Mary received the Annunciation while at home. We often dismiss the ordinary. We want amazing lives; we want to be part of something wonderful. When we let go and embrace the ordinary, we discover something wonderful. It’s as though a mother hid candy under piles of laundry and unwashed dishes so when her kids did their chores, they would discover the gifts. God has hidden joy and peace and extraordinary things under the ordinary moments of every day life.
A couple weeks ago St. Anthony parish was given an extraordinary gift — a relic of St. Anthony himself! Relics remind us that the saints were ordinary people. They lived daily lives just like we do. What was extraordinary about them was that they accepted where they were and what God had given them. And in living it peacefully, generously, lovingly — embracing the ordinary — they became extraordinary.
St. Anthony was originally named Ferdinand. He was born in Lisbon, Portugal around 1195. He joined a monastery as a religious brother. For ten years or so he prayed and studied. It was relics of Francisan martyrs that changed his life. He was so filled with a desire to be a martyr that he joined the Franciscans and sailed for northern Africa. But an illness and a violent storm diverted him to Italy. He quietly joined a convent there and lived a hidden, ordinary life.
It happened that Anthony accompanied the Franciscan Provincial to an ordination, where both Dominicans and Franciscans were present. No one had been assigned to preach, and no one wanted to look silly by preaching unprepared. So finally the Provincial pushed Anthony forward and bid him say a few words. Anthony began to preach, and all were amazed. This launched a career in teaching and eventually being an itinerant preacher and wonderworker.
Oconto Falls, take off your robe of mourning: “I have so much to do. My life is so boring. Why can’t I have fun like everybody else?” Put on the mantle of my glory! In embracing the ordinary you discover peace, joy, and God himself. A woman was writing Christmas cards. As she did, she began to think about each person. Then she began to pray for each person. And just like that, an ordinary chore was transformed into a joy and a blessing.
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”Gandalf, The Hobbit
Embrace the ordinary, and fill it with small acts of kindness and love this week. Let Jesus be the King of your Heart, and the Lord of the Ordinary. (10 Dec 2018)
Going Deeper: Read more about the life of St. Anthony at NewAdvent.org
Do some small acts of kindness and love this week.