Born into the Ordinary
With Advent upon us, I’d like to share this Reflection by Fr Ron Rolheiser on the season.
Fr Ron, Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate, is a prolific and highly esteemed writer who to my mind often puts a fresh spin on many matters, both human and divine, theological and psychological. He comes from a large farming family in Canada and is now 76. This reflection was written in December 1986.
“Christmas is about God in the ordinary. After the birth of Christ, we need not look to the extraordinary, the spectacular, the miraculous to find God. God is now found where we live, in our kitchens, at our tables, in our wounds and in each other’s faces. That is hard to believe and always has been.
When Jesus was on earth, virtually no one believed he was the Messiah because he was so ordinary, so unlike what they imagined God to be. People were looking for a Messiah. When finally Christ did appear, they were disappointed. They’d expected a superstar, a king, a miracle worker, someone who would, by miracle and hammer, vindicate good, destroy evil and turn the world rightfully upside down.
Jesus didn’t live up to those expectations. Born in a barn, preaching meekness and gentleness, unwilling to use power in a forceful way, there was little hammer and few miracles. Mainly there was ordinariness.
Things haven’t changed much in 2000 years. Seldom does Christ meet our expectations. We are
like his contemporaries, constantly looking beyond the ordinary, beyond the gardener, the cook
and the traveller, to try to find a miraculous Christ. It is for this reason that we fly to Fatima or
Lourdes to see a spot where the Blessed Virgin might have cried and left us a message, but fail to
see the significance of tears shed at our own breakfast table. We are intrigued by Padre Pio who
had the wounds of Christ in his hands but fail to see the wounds of Christ in those suffering around
We pray for visions but seldom watch a sunset. We desire proofs for the existence of God even as
life in all its marvels continues around us. We tend to look for God everywhere, except in the place
where the incarnation took place – in our flesh.”
Fr Geoff Baron
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