This is the story of the inn-keeper’s wife. She doesn’t feature in any of the gospel narratives, though she’s been a popular addition to the story since. The phrase that springs to mind about Stephen Cottrell’s portrayal is “salt of the earth”.
Here is a woman caught up in events beyond her expectation, beyond her understanding. Not looking to play any part in the grand story of salvation, but just doing what needs to be done, looking after the people in front of her. There is no great “yes” for her, no moment of revelation, no Magnificat. She just sort of slips into her part in God’s plan, as if by accident.
The spectacular calling of Mary, and her response to that calling, make a better story. But not necessarily a better example of saying “yes” to God. How many more people are there who seem to fall into doing God’s work without any sort of fanfare, perhaps even without realising it? That most valuable work of loving and serving the people right in front of them. And how often are they, like the inn-keeper’s wife, written out of the story?
The narrative of our faith tends to one of priests and theologians and saints. But that great cloud of witnesses who have played their small, forgotten part in the salvation story ought to be remembered too.