I Feel Dull and Old, But God Says Otherwise

December 10, 2020   Thursday of the Second Week of Advent (Lectionary: 184)

Reading 1   IS 41:13-20
I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I will help you.”
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the LORD,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Responsorial Psalm   PS 145:1 AND 9, 10-11, 12-13AB
R. (8) The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let them make known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.

Alleluia   IS 45:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   MT 11:11-15
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

By Amy Rigby 

When I left on my solo trip to South America in 2014, I wore a wedding band on my ring finger. I wasn’t married; I wore it for other reasons. 

On the inside of the sterling silver ring that I’d ordered online for twenty bucks, I had the following words engraved: “Ad majorem Dei gloriam.” “For the greater glory of God.” Those Latin words, which form the motto of the Society of Jesus, had always spoken to me. 

I believed with my whole heart that I was headed to South America for a greater purpose. No, I wasn’t on an organized mission trip or anything, but after months of prayer and contemplation, I decided I needed to go. It felt like a calling. I couldn’t resist.

Little did I know how tough things would get.

On the road alone for five months, I experienced my first heartbreak, questioned my decisions, sank into depression. But still, I wore that ring. When things got hard, I would slip it off my finger and rotate the silver band beneath the light, watching those words shine back at me: Ad majorem Dei gloriam

That was over six years ago. I miss the girl I was then—that bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Catholic who had never had a crisis of faith. I miss how I used to believe, unfailingly, that God could use me for His greater glory.

I miss feeling useful and new.

But today, God says to me in the first reading:

“I will make of you a threshing sledge,

sharp, new, and double-edged.”

That verse reads like poetry. The words “sharp” and “new” sing out to me—I, who feel dull and old. I had to Google what a threshing sledge was. It’s a tool for separating grain from chaff.

I like the idea of being made into a new, useful instrument in the hand of God.

These days, my once shiny silver ring is marred with scratches and tarnish. In October, I forgot it in an Airbnb in Albuquerque and didn’t realize it until I was already a four-hour drive away. I thought about letting it go, just leaving the past in the past.

But in the end, I asked the host to ship it to me.  Yes, it’s just a ring that can be replaced for $20. But I need the reminder of who I was when I ordered it all those years ago. I want to believe that the fire that burned inside of me then still burns now, even if most days, it feels like merely a spark. God can work with that.


Amy Rigby is a full-time writer who returned to the Catholic Church after many years away and still has much to learn. An avid traveler, she's been to 19 countries and is probably dreaming of her next destination right now. When her nomadic days are done, she hopes to own a big house filled with natural light, where everyone is invited to stay.

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