We find ourselves once again in Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time, what exactly does that mean? And why is it such a big portion of the liturgical year? We have Advent, Lent and Easter seasons and all three together – possibly the most significant seasons of the liturgical year are only about half, if that, of the total liturgical calendar. The remainder is ordinary time.
On Pentecost Sunday I listened to a homily which provoked some reflection about how God interacts with us, with me.
In Hebrew scripture we experience God, Yahweh, breaking into our world, into real time in order to initiate a trust, a relationship; to establish a lasting covenant with God’s beloved people. With Abraham and Moses and many others, Yahweh promised abiding presence in return for faithfulness. “You will be my chosen people, my beloved ones and I will be your God your only God, none others.” The covenant was sealed in blood and re-enacted time and again in scripture.
Jesus is the incarnation of that initial covenant – the living symbol of God’s continued loving, faithful presence in the midst of God’s beloved. Jesus came to live among us, the beloved, and to die among us, the beloved. Jesus is the living covenant.
Just recently we celebrated Pentecost, the sending of the Spirit who will remain with us, the beloved, throughout all time, in ordinary time. The covenant has been ongoing – the same, yet different; old, yet new. Pentecost is the sending of the Spirit – the gifts of being present in speaking and listening, the being with - clarity of vision beyond the cloudiness of superficial looking; discernment of listening beyond the hum of hearing; and purity of spoken truth cleansed of opinion and prejudice.
In the first reading we catch a glimpse of Abram about his daily routine. He is “very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.” But without the one thing most precious – children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. But still Yahweh promises “descendants.” Abraham continues to muddle through his days, trusting this promise. We catch a glimpse of Abraham’s ordinary time. We see him as he interacts with Lot as they make arrangements to separate in order that they may be at peace with each other – each having enough space for their extended families, herds, and livestock. We witness the working out of what continues to be an ordinary trial in today’s world.
Jesus is the fulfillment of Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham. Again in ordinary time Jesus interacts with many: his parents, friends, community, disciples, sick, needy, hungry, homeless, the establishment and the authorities – all in very ordinary time and circumstances. Jesus is the way, the light and the truth about living in ordinary time.
Pentecost, the sending of the Spirit – God’s continued presence within our ordinary time – within our daily lives, the joys, the struggles and drudgery of our daily lives. As Karl Rahner, S.J. said, “God is to be found. God is not in any simple sense our rescuer, but rather the one who is present with us, present in our sense of guilt and limitation. Our task is to accept ourselves and the God present with us, in trust.”
Yahweh interrupted us in our ordinary times. Jesus lived with us in ordinary times. And today the Spirit remains with us in our ordinary times. God’s covenant relationship is of being and presence, faithful companionship. In my daily examen of my ordinary time who has been the ordinary presence of God? Who has spoken truths that I may understand? Listened with a compassionate heart? Allowed me to speak the truths of my own ordinary experiences? Ordinary Time is the living out of the ongoing covenant between the Lover and us, the beloved. It is about the extra-ordinariness of who God is and who I am in God’s eyes. Ordinary Time is the extra-ordinariness of the ordinary. It is about accepting my creatureness, and the ordinary blessedness of it. Possibly Ordinary Time is the most significant of the Liturgical seasons.
The Good News is that even though my ordinary may not resemble your ordinary, our ordinary is daily blessed and glorified by the ongoing covenant with our abundantly gentle, loving and faithful God. The Lover and the beloved together in Ordinary Time.
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