God’s presence in the ordinary and familiar

July 31, 2020 – Friday: Memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073120.cfm)


Have you experienced being judged by friends or family members because of your past sins, weaknesses or failures and because you are just too familiar and ordinary for them? Or have you ever judged others too because of their past sins and failures and because they also are very familiar and ordinary to you?

Though Jesus never failed and sinned, yet, he too experienced judgment and bitterness from people around him. When Jesus went home to Nazareth, he was treated badly by his own people. The good news that he preached and God’s power that he revealed to his neighbors were treated with cruelty and insecurity.

When Jesus stood in their midst, the people merely saw a carpenter and an ordinary man who once played and worked with them. The people limited Jesus by what he was used to do, in doing carpentry, nothing more and nothing less. They couldn’t accept that there was actually MORE in Jesus.

Thus, instead of welcoming the power and wisdom that Jesus shared with grace and faith, the people refused to accept because of their insecurities and bitterness. They rejected Jesus because they could not accept that this ordinary carpenter brings God’s presence to them. They questioned him, “Who is this man? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?

The too-ordinary life of Jesus prevented them to welcome him as God’s revelation to them. Resentment and hate overwhelmed the people which made their hearts, unbelieving. This was the reason why Jesus was not able to perform many mighty deeds for them because God’s grace will only work when it is received with faith. Jesus is after all, not a magician who will attract people’s attention for a short span of time. Jesus reveals God’s presence and power through ordinary means.

And this is not far from our own experiences too. Many times we may reject what is ordinary and familiar. We ignore God’s grace and invitation to us because we are busy looking for extra-ordinary things, for a magic to appear. That instead of recognizing God’s power in an ordinary sunrise and sunset, we busy ourselves looking for a “dancing sun” or “falling petals from heaven.” Thus, we refuse to believe that there is MORE in the ordinary.

St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus

St. Ignatius de Loyola, whose feast we celebrate today, believed that God is always present with us, in all our human experiences. This conviction in Ignatius is found in his deep realization that God works in all things and in all lives, no matter how simple or ordinary it can in the eyes of others. Thus, we can indeed find God, realize God and embrace God when we too have made ourselves more open and welcoming to God’s presence.

Indeed, miracles happen every day in its most ordinary way even amidst this pandemic. God’s grace is being unfolded even in our everyday experiences. God’s healing power is also revealed to us through our familiar sacraments in the church and through the embrace of people who love us like our parents, siblings, relatives and friends.

This is the invitation now for us today – that is, to make ourselves more aware of God’s work even in the most ordinary way, to recognize God even among the familiar people, places and events. When we are able to learn this kind of awareness, then, we too shall discover the wonders that God gives us every day, and we shall realize that there is MORE in every ordinary experience, and in every ordinary and familiar person we meet.

This calls us not to judge quickly to what is familiar and to what is seemingly ordinary, but, to be more welcoming of God’s grace. This reminds us now to be more open to the many potentials of those people who are familiar to us, and not to limit them to their past failures and sins. This calls us too to recognize how God unfolds his grace and his gift of healing through those people who love us. This calls us also to listen to God’s message and invitation through our present situation and through the people who might be God’s prophet today even though they look so familiar and ordinary for us, because there is always more that God offers us today. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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