Friday, January 10, 2014

Ordinary time: Extraordinary or Example for Living

 Sermon on the Mount fresco by Rosselli in the Sistine Chapel 

I once took a Lutheran friend to Catholic Mass with me.  It was during the summer and my friend was confused from the beginning when the cantor started with “This is the 15th Sunday of ordinary time…”.  My friend said what is this “ordinary time”.  I gave an answer about how it’s not Lent or Easter and and it’s not Advent or Christmas so its ordinary time.  Having never been outside my Catholic shell, I didn’t know anything else.  It wasn’t till a few weeks later when my friend invited me to Lutheran church and they started with “This is the 8th Sunday after trinity…” did i finally get it.  They continue to count after trinity where we switch to ordinary time.  

But the term ordinary time is misleading.  No time in the life of Jesus was ordinary.  During this time we hear all the stories of his public ministry.  We hear about miracles, healing and sermons.  These are pivotal things to our faith and our faith understanding.  By definition this term “ordinary” doesn’t seem right, as an adjective ordinary is defined as “with no special or distinctive features; normal” and as a noun “what is commonplace or standard”.  But when looking closer at the life of Jesus we see that throughout his 3 year public ministry this was the norm for him and should become so for us.  

During his public ministry Jesus travels all over Galilee preaching, teaching and healing.  For Jesus this was normal and commonplace.  This is how his reputation grew and why great crowds of thousands came to hear him.  His public ministry seems extraordinary for a you or I, but it may be an example of what we should be striving.  The parts of Jesus life that are extraordinary are the parts we celebrate not in ordinary time that only God can do.  Examples being an angel appearing to a virgin or the extraordinary pinnacle of suffering and dying on the cross to save mankind from their own sins, then rising from the dead.  The Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter time are when God was doing extraordinary work.

The everyday of life of Jesus where he shows us how to live a true Christian life, loving one another and working to heal those in distress.  These events of Jesus public ministry should be ordinary for us too.  We should strive to live just as Jesus did in his “ordinary time”.  We will never be born of a virgin or save the world by offering ourselves as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity, that’s not within our capabilities.  But we should be doing the things Jesus did during his everyday life in our own ordinary time.  Will we spread the good news to all those we encounter?  Will we offer comfort to the suffering and the dying?  And most importantly will we offer hope to the desperate world we are born into?

Jesus came to show us how our ordinary time should be.  So as we enter the season of ordinary time, it is not about what you call it, it is about how you live it.           

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