There’s an oft-told tale about a little boy named Jamie. He was trying out for a spot in the school Christmas play. His heart was set on taking part in it, but his mother feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, she anxiously picked him up after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Guess what, Mom,” he shouted. “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.”

How many of us can share Jamie’s excitement? Perhaps we smile at his innocence and willingness to settle for “second best.” Has he, in fact, received “second best?” Perhaps, rather, he is a model for every admirer of what is wholesome and beautiful? A model who teaches us that responding to great art is as important as producing it.

When we listen to Mary’s Magnificat, we cannot help but join with her and all those who “clap and cheer” the wondrous works of God. We clap and cheer and glorify God for giving Jesus (and us) such a mother. This is gratitude in action – the role God invites us to play!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.