I. Christmas Really Is Over
Yesterday we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord and with that, the Church ended the Season of Christmas. So today in churches all around the world, crèches are being taken down and stored away until next year, Christmas trees, now a fire hazard, are being hauled away, and only a few spindly poinsettias remain to remind us of Christmas. For her part, the Church declares that we are in “ordinary time”… an interval of about a month until it’s Ash Wednesday – which takes place this year on February 14th – so happy Valentine’s day in advance!
II. Ordinary Time
A. I have a confession to make. I’m not entirely thrilled over the phrase, “ordinary time”. It sounds too much like “business as usual” and the Christian life is anything but “business as usual” – Every moment with the Lord is extraordinary! And there should always be something extraordinary about the daily life of a Christian who is said to be touched with grace and glory & is said to breathe the air of eternity. So, “ordinary time” must not mean business as usual but rather it has to do with living our daily lives in an extraordinary way. As Pope Benedict famously said, “One who has hope lives differently.”
B. Let we think “ordinary time” is ordinary, Jesus delivers a message to us this morning: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). So, in the rough and tumble of daily life we are called to proclaim Jesus as Lord, we are called to live the Beatitudes in how we think, speak, and act, we are called to ask for the forgiveness of God and those we have offended, and we are called to allow the light of the Gospel to shine in us and through us. Nothing ordinary about that!
C. What’s more, in the Gospel chooses his apostles – taking them from their ordinary lives and plunging them into an extraordinary adventure… Without knowing the details, they followed him. Nothing ordinary there!
III. The Ordinary Measure
A. St. John Paul II used to refer to holiness as “the ordinary measure of the Christian life”. He said that the holiness of the Church should be made manifest in the lives of each one of her members, no matter what our state in life, no matter what calling we have received, no matter what. So too Pope Francis has called you and me to encounter the Lord afresh, to allow the Lord in his mercy to accompany us along the path of life, and in turn to walk with others, sharing with them the gift of mercy which we have received from the hand of the Lord.
B. So as we continue our work together and seek to foster the mission and daily activity of the Mount, let us ask for the extraordinary graces available to us even in “ordinary time”! God bless us and keep us always in his love!