Let’s begin with a statement of the obvious. Every person living today was born. Since birth is an event common to every single person, it might be considered one of the most ordinary of all experiences. Try telling that to a new mother, though. As “ordinary” as the concept of birth may be, there is no such thing as an ordinary birth. Each birth is unique, and every child is precious.
Mary, the mother of the Christ child, treasured the birth of her first son. So many wondrous things happened, but the gospel of Luke recorded something ordinary. When Jesus was born in a stable something very predictable happened. Shepherds came. What could be more ordinary in a stable than encountering people who care for animals? Of course shepherds came! But Mary listened as they told her that they had come for extraordinary reasons. They saw angels. They heard angels. They obeyed angels. And they found Christ, just as the angels had said. Luke says that Mary treasured up all of these things–the ordinary and the extraordinary–and pondered them in her heart.
Everywhere we turn, the ordinary intersects with the extraordinary. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence celebrates the story of Jesus’ birth. It is a Eucharist hymn from the Liturgy of St. James. It was translated into ordinary language (English) by Gerard Moultrie and is usually sung to the melody of an ordinary French folk tune. The Eucharist is the formal name for the service of communion, which honors Jesus’ instruction at the Last Supper to break bread in remembrance of Him. It takes ordinary bread and wine and shares them in an extraordinary way. Look for both the ordinary and the extraordinary in these words:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
Mary followed her path to Bethlehem and found many things to treasure and ponder in her heart, but especially the visit of ordinary shepherds. On your journey to the foot of the cross you will follow the stories of Mary and Bethlehem, too. As you do, ponder the extraordinary mysteries and love of God in every ordinary step.
Follow the Path!
[Use with Something to Ponder, day 34 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]