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Born into the ordinary

After the birth of Christ, we need not look to the extraordinary, the spectacular or 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, precisely because he was so ordinary, so unlike what they imagined God to be.

They had expected a superstar, a king, someone who would turn the world rightfully upside down.

Preaching meekness and gentleness, Jesus didn’t live up to those expectations.

It is curious that Scripture refuses to describe what Jesus looked like. It never tells us whether he was short or tall, with beard or without, had light or dark hair, had blue or brown eyes.

Neither does it ever assign to him anything extraordinary in terms of psychological countenance. For example, it never tells us that when Jesus entered a room his eyes were so penetrating and his gaze so awesome that people knew they were in the presence of someone extraordinary. No.

In terms of his appearance, Jesus apparently wasn’t worth describing. He looked like everyone else.

Even after the resurrection, he is mistaken for a gardener, a cook, a traveller.

Things haven’t changed much in two thousand years. Seldom does Christ meet expectations.

We, like his contemporaries, are constantly looking beyond the ordinary, beyond the gardener, the cook, and the trawling stranger, to try to find a miraculous Christ.

It is for this reason that we fly off to Fatima or Lourdes to see a spot where the Blessed Virgin might have cried, but fail to see the significance of the tears shed at our own breakfast table.

We are intrigued by a Padre Pio who had the wounds of Christ on his hands, but fail to see the wounds of Christ in those suffering around us or in our own emotional and moral wounds.

We pray for visions, but seldom watch a sunset. We marvel at the gift of tongues, but are bored listening to babies.

We look for Christ everywhere except in the place where the incarnation took place: our flesh.

Love is a thing that happens in ordinary places in kitchens, at tables, in bedrooms, in workplaces, in families, in the flesh.

God abides in us when we abide there. Through the Incarnation God crawls into ordinary life and invites us to meet him there.

Ronald Rolheiser OMI is from Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas Copyright 2005 Liguori Publications.
Used with permission. 

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