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Blessing Ordinary Tasks by Recalling Jesus Did Them Too

May 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Life of Christ (Week 4 of 27)

As I write this, I’m facing Mount Laundryest, the summit of which I may not see for hours given the amount of other work I need to do.

I don’t really mind laundry, but we’ve reach the point, as a family, where the sheer volume we produce makes it never-ending.

I’m not a very good housekeeper, but up until recently, I’ve been able to stay on top of laundry. And dishes. That’s another weak point in my homemaking quiver: the pile in the dishwasher, clean and waiting to be unloaded, and the pile near the sink, dirty and waiting to be loaded.

The cycle of these ordinary tasks and the ceaseless nature of them gets me down sometimes. “All I can get done is LAUNDRY. And DISHES. But they’re! Never! Done!”, I caught myself thinking recently.

I tried to make myself grateful: for the fact that we have clothes and running water and plenty to eat and a host of other blessings, but I was rolling my eyes at myself and not so much experiencing any real gratitude.

“I have this other important work to dooooooo!”, I caught myself whining.

And then I realized, especially after reading today’s selection, that in addition to being a big ungrateful whiner, I’m distancing myself from the One I should be drawing closer to, my Savior who was, for 30 invisible years, just a guy who worked around town and helped his mom.

Then, considering that Jesus did the mundane and boring, what do I have to complain about?

If there ever was a Son Who might have been expected to claim personal independence (especially after His powerful affirmation in the temple), it was He. And yet to sanctify and exemplify human obedience, and to make up for the disobedience of men, He lived under a humble roof, obedient to His parents. For eighteen uneventful years He fixed the fat roofs of Nazarene homes and mended the wagons of farmers. Every mean and lowly task was part of the Father’s business. Human development of the God-man unfolded in the village so naturally that not even the townspeople were conscious of the greatness of Him Who dwelled in their midst. It was indeed a going “down” in the sense that it was a self-denial and a self-abnegation for Him to submit Himself to His own creatures. He evidently followed the trade of a carpenter, for eighteen years later, the townspeople were to ask:

Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary?

Mark 6:3

Justin Martyr, basing himself on tradition, says that during this time Our Lord made plows and yokes, and taught men righteousness through the products of His peaceful toil.

Chapter 2, “Nazareth,” Paragraph 2

This is a reminder I need pretty frequently. Life is full of things that, let’s face it, are NOT exciting. They are, however, potentially life-changing.

As I mate socks, fold jeans, and wash loads and loads of underwear and shirts, is it possible that I’m united myself with Jesus? As I scrape ketchup and crumbs off plates and put the dishes away in a rotation that could qualify me for some sort of Olympics, could it be that I’m doing God’s will?

Isn’t the other work I do more important, more critical, more in line with what God wants from me?

Maybe, instead of seeing another dirty diaper as an interruption of my real work, I should consider what the real work I do is. Those kids, those family members, those people who demand from me in ways small and exhausting, they’re the ones helping me on the path closer to Jesus.

And when I turn to Him, I can even see him in the midst of the laundry and dishes!

Reading Assignment:

Chapters 3-5

Discussion Questions:

1. What daily duties take over your life? How can you use them as a way to turn closer to Jesus?

2. Do you find yourself wishing you could be doing something else? This week, bless that time and give it to Jesus as a gift. Offer it as a prayer for a special intention of your heart.

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Mary Therese

    Where’s the smiley that says, “^^Yeah, that!” –exactly. And I’m at a point in my life where the children are mostly grown and gone, so I don’t have near as much of the overwhelming ordinariness as I used too. I feel much of the past years I wasted so much that I could have offered instead. And now, I shouldn’t waste any more time worrying about what I missed, but look at what is still here. There are still ample opportunities for me to still embrace the everyday ordinary things, and still I run from them. Why? I guess it’s the inherent weakness…not an excuse, but something I need to work to overcome. Thank you for the challenge for the week! All Christ’s years of obdience and submission to the everyday–what a powerful reminder to us of how important they really are.

  • Vicki

    I read a quote by GK Chesterton the other day: “The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” So true – the greatest saints are no doubt never known in this world. I’m with you, Sarah – it’s so easy to get lost in those “other” things. Great reminder!

  • Lisa

    “The only acts of Christ’s childhood which are recorded are acts of obedience—obedience to His Heavenly Father and to His earthly parents…… His whole life was submission.”

    Why, after 50 years of life am I really just now starting to “understand” this incredible act of love? Maybe because I’m struggling soooooooo much with our youngest child, who of all the children, shows willful disobedience to both my husband and me. I am at such a loss in knowing how to parent this one. But I’m starting to realize how precious a gift obedience is to our loving Father….and how immensely pleased He is when we submit to Him. And then the wonders He can work through our docile disposition.

    We live in a time where submission is not desired by the individual, nor is it seen as a strength by others — but as a weakness. Perhaps in truth, it IS being “weak.” BUT, the beauty of that is where I am weak, He is strong. And as St John the Baptist declared: I must decrease … he must increase. To freely yield to Christ, to lean into Him, learning from His example that He so lovingly taught us by SHOWING us obedience….daily, and ultimately to His death on the cross.

    I still don’t know how to be at peace with my six year old’s daily defiant behavior, or how to ever really stay ahead of the “laundry issues”, but, I trust that if we just keep doing our ordinary duty out of love, then I pray that eventually, we’ll more closely bear His glorious image.

    Trusting Mother Mary, pray for us. +
    Sts Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us.?+

    P.S. Vicki, isn’t GKC wonderful! Thanks for sharing that quote.

  • Maureen

    “not even the townspeople were conscious of the greatness of Him”
    In this day and age everyone wants people to know of their “greatness” or of doing great things. People are not posting selfies of themselves washing dishes or folding laundry. Facebook postings are of “great accomplishments, destinations, attended events”.
    It is good to try and reflect the love of Christ with out joining the masses tripping over themselves to show you how wonderful they are. I think much of social media breeds contempt for our fellow man. Christ shows us greatness through humility, it is a harder and longer road.

    • LizEst

      True…and, there are plenty of folks posting ordinary events as well.

  • Benard Chedid

    “Justin Martyr, basing himself on tradition, says that during this time Our Lord made plows and yokes, and taught men righteousness through the products of His peaceful toil”.

    Then let us look to Isaiah 2:3-4

    “He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall decide for many peoples;
    and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
    nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war any more”.

    Jesus was already partly living out the fulfilment of this prophecy in his earthly life.

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