We have all heard of how a child sometimes abandons a specific gift and plays with the box it came in instead. How could the ordinary hold more excitement for a child than the gift purchased, sometimes at great expense? Perhaps it is a hidden wisdom that children have for what is important – a wisdom that Jesus exhorts us to re-examine for ourselves.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel that it is the childlike to whom God reveals the greatest truths. The first reading gives us a glimpse of this. Moses is going about the ordinary tasks of a shepherd, tasks that he can probably do without thinking about them. In the midst of the ordinary, Moses receives a surprise, a burning bush that is not consumed, an extraordinary bush indeed. Moses is drawn to it which enables God to get Moses’ attention. Moses learns that God has heard him and the people enslaved in Egypt. God tasks Moses with their release.
This is the same gracious will of God that Jesus praises and for which he gives thanks in the Gospel. Jesus, always with us in our ordinary tasks of daily life, shares surprises with us if we, like Moses, are open to these surprises. Despite our difficulty in seeing ourselves as agents of God’s will, God reminds us that nothing is impossible with God.
Pope Francis wrote: “It often happens in life that we seek from our experiences and even from people only what conforms to our own ideas and ways of thinking so as never to have to make an effort to change. And this can even happen with God, and even to us believers, to us who think we know Jesus, that we already know so much about Him and that it is enough to repeat the same things as always. And this is not enough with God. But without openness to what is new and, above all – listen well – openness to God’s surprises, without amazement, faith becomes a tiring litany that slowly dies out and becomes a habit, a social habit.”
Just as children sometimes gravitate toward the ordinary and use their imaginations in play rather than a toy that may not take much imagination so, too, are we called to seek God in the ordinary parts of our lives. God is found in the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. St. Kateri Tekakwitha stands as a good example of this. This simple maiden made crosses of ordinary twigs and prayed before them in the woods near her home. She bore the cross of illness and disability and persevered despite the cruelty of others. Today we venerate her as the Lily of the Mohawks.
Ordinary bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, an extraordinary gift. Nothing is impossible with God.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator