Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Meeting God in 'Ordinary Time'

“ Any single day that is lived with God and for God is far from ordinary”

The conversation goes like this: “What have you been doing all day?” The reply, “Nothing very special. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

And so we think of what is ordinary as being routine, rather dull, scarcely worth mentioning; not the sort of thing that will be remembered. The highlights of our lives are celebrations, outings, the unexpected visits of welcome friends. Also those moments of high drama – sudden and serious sickness, even bereavement when people are thrown into emotional turmoil. Such events break the regular flow of our lives.

These days we are working our way through Ordinary Time in the Church’s Liturgical Cycle. Ordinary Time fills the bulk of the year. Now past are the high seasons of Advent and Christmastide, of Lent and Eastertide. After this we settle down to the gentler pace of Ordinary Time.

In fact, this time is far from insignificant. Still less dull and boring, scarcely meriting our attention. In the Scripture texts of the Mass and of Office of Readings of the Prayer of the Church we are presented with the bedrock of our Faith: above all, the public ministry of Jesus Christ; the unfolding of Salvation History; the spirituality of responding to the Word of God, the love of God. A rich diet, indeed.

This is the staple diet, the normal nourishment for us ordinary folk leading our ordinary lives. Ordinary Time is not the season for exceptional gestures of devotion and outstanding fervour. The Church does not raise us to such a pitch. While the tempo is slower, the reach can be profound.

This is a time for consolidating our Faith, of bringing it to bear on the humdrum flow of our lives. If we can accept this, then what seems nothing very special becomes very special; what is nothing out of the ordinary becomes quite extraordinary.

This is because in our everyday lives we are in continuous dialogue with the Word of God – as it concerns our family life, our national life, our relating to our neighbours and people in the work-place. Even the nature of our recreation and entertainment is shaped by the Word of God.

In this way our personal identity, and that of the community is established – a pattern of godliness or ungodliness. In the ordinariness of life we reveal whether we see our Christianity as relevant and motivating for us or marginal and insignificant.

Make no mistake about it, any single day that is lived with God and for God is far from ordinary. It may not be newsworthy or memorable, but it is indeed, spectacular. Contrast this with the day in which God is given no place and you will feel a marked difference.
Ordinary Time is everyday time – God’s time with us; our time with God. Very, very special.

Peter Clarke O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God on his bird perch.

1 comment:

  1. As a child I was always puzzled by reading the term, ordinary time, in my missal. I felt that I was missing something which was just outside my understanding. So it was with great pleasure that I read Fr Peter's lively and informative explanation of this mystery.
    The sense that ordinary time is as Fr Peter says,God's time with us and our time with God, is brought out beautifully by a 16th century English poet. George Herbert writes,

    "I cannot ope mine eyes,
    But thou art ready there to catch
    My morning-soul and sacrifice:
    Then we must needs for that day make a match."