In our Church year we just crossed over into Ordinary Time. This Ordinary Time will continue until a new Church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. For 2020 that means November 29
. Ordinary time is the longest “season” in our Church year. We have a lot of ordinary time ahead of us. What shall we do with it?
“Ordinary” – what an interesting word. Look it up anywhere and you will find some of these words: normal, what is commonplace/standard, routine, customary, with no special or distinctive features, average, common, not different or special or unexpected. These refer to our secular, everyday use of the word. Is it different in the church/liturgical context? Somewhat: because it originated there out of the idea of a way of numbering the weeks outside of the major liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Easter, etc. There it derives from the idea of “ordinal” referring to numbers, coming perhaps a little more directly from the Latin origin of the word:
What is paradoxical now about our entering into Ordinary time in our Church context is that none of it seems either normal or ordered. Not only in the context of church, but also in our everyday life in a very secular environment. Our secular and our Church life are undergoing “dis-order” and our routines in both environments are anything but what we have been used to as customary, common, average in our lives, as individuals, as families, as community, as systems that we have previously used to “order” our world.
An interesting reflection on the context of “ordinary” emerges as we look at the use of our weeks of Ordinary time in the Biblical passages that are our lectionary focus during this longest season of the Church year. The focus, as it is every year in Ordinary time, is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. His ministry spans a one to three-year period of “recorded” action depending on the interpretation of time sequencing within the four Gospels. But, whatever the specific time frame, Jesus’ ministry displays a Divinely desired and designed intent to bring a new order into a disordered world. It is a time of presenting a model of re-ordering of human ways into re-alignment with the original design of a Divinely created order.
So, given the current context of what is going on in our worldly environment and in our liturgical Church environment isn’t it a unique and inspirational time to take the opportunity to address the idea of “ordering/re-ordering”? To consider what has been dissembled in the middle of the disorder of what has been routine and customary in the past, then consider what may emerge if we re-form, re-build, re-order, re-novate (re-innovate) on the sure foundation of an ideal that was originally inspired.
The Hebrew scriptures call us to “number our days.” We have generally associated that with the idea of counting our days. However, the essential intent of that call is to “order our days.” In this time of disorder, we are called to take the time to consider the elemental ways we have been living (the old order), what we are learning about living now in the midst of a disorder of old ways, then identify what to take forward and what to let go of as we live into a re-formed, re-creation way of living, moving and having being, individually and communally. May we do so with courage (heart-strength), perseverance, honesty, clarity, love. May we open to Divine grace to do this, trusting that when we “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” it will be so.