by Gracemary Yap
Beginning from the month of November up till the month of May, we are brought on an exhilarating journey as we re-discover and remember our Lord’s birth (Advent and Christmas), death (Holy Week Triduum), resurrection (Easter) and ascension into heaven (Ascension Sunday). After the season of Christmas, we are given a “breather” with a few weeks of Ordinary Time; but we are soon thrust into the season of Lent where we contemplate the Lord’s impending sacrifice and paschal mystery. The season of Lent then leads into Easter, and after the consecutive celebrations of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christ, the Church enters into a long un-interrupted season of Ordinary Time.
What is Ordinary Time? Is it as uneventful as its name seems to imply?
The word ordinary comes from the Latin word ordinarius, which means “usual, regular, orderly”. This season is thus called ordinary because it follows an orderly schedule beginning with the 1st week to 33rd/34th week of Ordinary Time. So, contrary to our understanding of ordinary as mundane, uneventful, and unexceptional, the season of Ordinary Time is actually crucial for our growth as disciples of Jesus Christ; this is aptly depicted by the green liturgical vestments because green symbolizes growth and new life.
Having celebrated the Lord’s incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension in the other liturgical seasons, the readings during Ordinary Time walk us through Jesus’ miracles and teachings during his three years of public ministry. In this way, the entire liturgical year together covers the whole life of Jesus Christ.
“Within the cycle of a year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ, from the incarnation and birth until the ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the coming of the Lord. Recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of her Lord’s powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present for all time, and the faithful are enabled to lay hold upon them and become filled with saving grace.” (#102 Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963)
The season of Ordinary Time is rich and beautiful because we not only discover the divinity of Jesus Christ from the accounts of the miracles he performed – think of the miracle of the five loaves and two fish for example – and the teachings and parables he shared, but we also have the privilege of discovering his humanity i.e. Jesus took pity on the crowds who had nothing to eat. By following Jesus’ public ministry closely through the mass readings, we will become increasingly familiar with the humanity of Jesus Christ. This is crucial to us His disciples! In our discipleship journey, we long and yearn to become more like Christ. Yet, how do we begin to reflect Christ in our humanity, if we are not familiar with His humanity? Jesus’ three years of public ministry offer us a glimpse of what Jesus desires from us as his disciples in the way we love God and others and the way we live our lives. After all, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
So, what can we do to receive and grow in our faith journeys in this upcoming season of Ordinary Time? Here are 3 tips to help!
1. Grow in Familiarity with the Humanity of Christ
A priest once asked me, “Can you tell me when Jesus was kind, compassionate and gentle in scriptures at the top of your head? If you cannot, you are not familiar enough with the humanity of Jesus!”
During this season, take this opportunity to grow deeper in your understanding and familiarity with the humanity of Jesus Christ by faithfully contemplating the daily gospel readings. You can choose to do so by various means that is more conducive for you including Lectio Divina or Ignatian contemplation. Allow yourself to be immersed deeply into the scenes in the gospel readings and ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you to understand the words of scripture. Allow the Lord Jesus to surprise you as you contemplate His life!
2. Form Holy Friendships with the Communion of Saints and Mother Mary
Interspersed throughout the season of Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates feasts and memorials dedicated to Mother Mary and various Saints and martyrs. During this season, you can form holy friendships with the communion of Saints and also with ou Blessed Mother by reading about their lives when the Church celebrates feasts and memorials dedicated to them. As we read more about the lives of holy men and women of God, it inspires and encourages us to persevere in pursuing holiness even through the difficulties we may encounter in our own faith journeys.
The Church has also included in the annual cycle days devoted to the memory of the martyrs and the other saints. Raised up to perfection by the manifold grace of God, and already in possession of eternal salvation, they sing God’s perfect praise in heaven and offer prayers for us. By celebrating the passage of these saints from earth to heaven the Church proclaims the paschal mystery achieved in the saints who have suffered and been glorified with Christ; she proposes them to the faithful as examples drawing all to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she pleads for God’s favors. (#104 Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963)
3. Pick Up Good Habits
With the regularity that comes with Ordinary Time, it is a wonderful time to pick up good new habits to grow deeper in your faith journey! Whether it is committing to going for the sacrament of confession more regularly, daily contemplating on the gospel readings, journaling, attending mass daily (or in our current situation, tuning into the streaming of online masses), picking up a spiritual book, etc. This season of ordinary time is a great time for tilling the soil of our hearts and preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus at Advent. Onwards dear friends!
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