This week we begin the longest stretch of time in the Liturgical calendar: Ordinary Days.
When you hear this phrase your mind may jump to other words: tedious, arduous, boring, dull, lifeless. This is far from the meaning of the word Ordinary in the Liturgical calendar. In fact, Ordinary days are the most important days in the Liturgical calendar. Ordinary is where we find life.
Advent is the celebration of God being with us in the person of Jesus. Lent and Easter are the climax of the narrative of Jesus and they are the celebration of the central matters of faith. But Ordinary days are much more crucial to you and me. The question in Ordinary days becomes: Does any of it matter? Does Jesus’ presence matter in my life? Do the fasts transform my daily habits? Does resurrection have implication in my day-to-day interactions?
Without Ordinary days, Advent, Lent and Easter lose all meaning. Ordinary days are where live out the truths of the bigger celebrations. The celebrations are margins which are seeking to help us make sense of our lives. The Liturgical year is not a history lesson about Jesus. It is learning to look more like Jesus right where we find ourselves.
We often lose the importance of the Ordinary in our lives. We like to focus on the bid events, the grandiose moments. But Ordinary days actually calls us away from this. During Ordinary days we find ourselves lacking the special feast, moments, and celebrations. It calls us to think about what faith looks like in the continuous and faithful moments of life.
Life takes place in the ordinary. It can seem long. It is made up of that which is routine, uneventful, and common place. Life is ordinary.
But to rob life of it’s ordinary-ness is to rob it of it’s substance.
Joan Chittister says it this way:
“The problem is that for life to become its own exhilarant, we must learn to live it consciously, to live it deeply, to live it to the brim, beyond the visible to the meaningful.”
In the Ordinary days ahead, we learn to live life more purposefully and faithfully. And this is what brings rich enjoyment and awareness in our ordinary and day-to-day lives.
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death. When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”
So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said,“I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.
1 Kings 8:22-23, 41-43
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, and he prayed,
“In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.”
Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
He is to be feared above all gods.
The gods of other nations are mere idols,
but the Lord made the heavens!
Honor and majesty surround him;
strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.
O nations of the world, recognize the Lord;
recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves!
Bring your offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.
Let all the earth tremble before him.
This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
God, we thank you for the gift of the ordinary.
Help us to be open to your presence in the moments we often mistake for dull and mundane.
Give us patience when life seems toilsome and long.
Help us take what we have learned from Easter and allow it to transform us in the regular moments of life.
We ask that you never let us take any moment for granted.