Back to "Ordinary Time"
It is now February. The Christmas Season ended a month ago. Did you not wish that the Christmas Season would be a bit longer this year? Did you not have a kind of “let down feeling” because now it is just plain, old “Ordinary Time”?
What “Ordinary Time” Means
Because the term “ordinary” connotes something that is not distinctive, many people think that “Ordinary Time” is that part of the Church calendar that is unimportant or uninteresting! The fact that it falls outside of the major liturgical seasons, like Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, reinforces that impression. Wrong! Ordinary Time is the part of the year in which the Church focuses on the life of Christ, ”the Lamb of God,” who walks among us and transforms us as we live our daily lives. Now, there is nothing "ordinary" about that!
While attending the online Mass in the Manila Cathedral the Monday after the Baptism of our Lord, when Ordinary Time begins, my attention was caught by the homily of the priest, Fr Jumbim Torres, OSA, Local Prior of the San Agustin Seminary, Intramuros, Manila. He shared this poem by Howard Thurman:
When the songs of Angels are still,
And the stars of the sky are gone,
The Kings and Princes are home.
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
Then the work of Christmas begins...
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.
Already wearing green vestments, he said calmly that we are back to our ordinary lives. However, as the poem, reminds us, the work of Christmas only begins, for us.
Using the Gospel Reading that day, the story of the Call of the First Disciples (Mark1:14-20), Fr Torres pointed out that Peter and Andrew, James and John “then left everything and followed Jesus.” He said something thought-provoking: “The first apostles, together with other disciples whom Jesus would call, will eventually accompany him as he fulfills the reason why he is sent for us this Christmas. Jesus needs, after his birth, collaborators to fulfill the reason why he was born. From then on, they will help realize the vision of the Father: to establish the Kingdom of God.” He added, “We, the so- called modern disciples of Jesus, are invited to do just that, starting today. We are to continue the work of Christmas: to radiate the light of Christ every day, in every way, in all that we do, in all that we say.” I think it was not unintentional that the Church chose for that day the gospel on the Call of the Disciples. It is to reiterate our Christian vocation, in the ordinariness of life!
“Ordinary Time” in St. Ignatius Church
This year 2022, we continue to celebrate the Ignatian Year by deepening our knowledge of our Patron Saint and his spirituality. We are invited to reflect also on our experiences of “Conversion,” which many Ignatian enthusiasts call “My Cannonball Experience.” The four Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) of the Jesuits are only in the third year of their 10-year plan (2019- 2029). Finding ways to respond within our given reality is an ever-present challenge. Last but not the least, we are just in the middle of the 2021-2023 Synodal Process, initiated by Pope Francis for the renewal of the entire Roman Catholic Church.
How much do we know about all these? Do we feel part of them? If not, do we have the desire to get involved? Examples: How do we continue to raise our parishioners’ awareness of these themes and how do we encourage one another to participate actively in putting them into life? How do we attend to the faith formation of the increasing number of children playing on the lawn on Sundays? How do we sustain our young people who consider the parish their “home away from home” and, on the other hand, invite those who have no interest in the church at all? How do we attend to the pastoral care of the elderly, the poor, the homeless, those in crisis, the refugees who knock on our doors? Do we truly understand the needs of migrants and appreciate their presence in the parish? How do we face the challenges of being Church in the midst of the continuing pandemic? Like the disciples, we have been called to be collaborators of Jesus in bringing the GOOD NEWS and the light of HOPE to others, including those outside our “fence”.
Yes, there is much to look forward to and much to do in “Ordinary Time.” Thirty- three Sundays remind us of that! Read the next pages. May the Holy Spirit bring new insights and open new horizons, as we journey together in the months ahead!
Sr. Flor Florece, F.I