Exactly 239 years ago, st. Madeleine Sophie Barat was born. She came into the world at night, during a fire, and therefore often said that “I was brought by fire.” Today, however, I realised that it was not just fire, it was Advent fire! A fire of expectation and longing. From my calculations it came out that December 12, 1779, was the third Sunday of Advent, that is Sunday Gaudete, Sunday of joy! I do not know if Sophie herself ever wondered about the meaning of the day she was born, but I know that the liturgical periods marked the rhythm of her heart, as the seasons marked the work in the vineyard of her parents.
It may seem something very insignificant in world history – the premature birth of little Sophie in a small Burgundian town in France on the third Sunday of Advent. And yet for many thousands of Sisters around the world, this is a crucial event in a certain way, because without it, we would not be where we are.
Sometimes it may seem to us that what we do every day has no impact on the fate of the world, that what we say or write does not mean much, because we are just a small grain of sand. Each of us, however, was created for a unique mission in the history of salvation. Not everyone will, of course, be remembered and raised to the altars, but it is only after death that we will see how important one simple smile was, one kind word, patient hearing of someone and a faithful “yes” that has become our response to God’s invitations.
I think the whole mystery of the Incarnation teaches us that there is nothing too small to be relevant from God’s perspective. Everything can matter if we put a fire of love into it.