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What is Ordinary Time?

Last weekend, we celebrated Trinity Sunday and entered into the “second half” of the Church Year. The Christian calendar begins with Advent, watching and waiting for Christ’s coming. Then, from Christmas through the Feast of the Ascension, we walk with Jesus through his birth, ministry, transfiguration, temptation, trial, crucifixion, resurrection, and finally his return in triumph to the right hand of the Father. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the Church. And the following week, we recognize and proclaim the God revealed throughout this biblical narrative: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Where can you possibly go from there?? The long season “After Pentecost” or “After Trinity” is sometimes also known as “Ordinary Time.” This name refers to the ordinal numbers we use to count Sundays… but it’s easy to think about this season as “ordinary” in the more usual sense. Average. Nothing special. After the intensity of Lent and Holy Week, the joy of Eastertide, and the awesome power of Pentecost, Ordinary Time can feel like a letdown. But this season plays an important—even vital—role in our life as Christians, and our life together as the Church. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowers us as God’s people, sending us out to proclaim the good news and drawing us in as members of Christ’s own body. On Trinity Sunday, we see fully what that membership means: participation in the very life and love of the Triune God. “Ordinary Time” is where that proclamation and participation happens. The seasons from Advent through Trinity show forth God’s saving work, and ultimately reveal God’s own name and nature. As so often happens in Scripture, God seeks after us, calling us by name (see Gen. 3:8-9). God makes the first move. “Ordinary Time” invites us to answer. As we trace once again the Christian year’s journey from promise to fulfillment, as we hear and tell the story of God’s saving deeds among us, we are given the opportunity to say “yes.” We let the Holy Spirit’s transforming power take hold of us. And over time, this changes us. “Ordinary Time” is difficult for us, at least partly, because we’re impatient. We want salvation to happen instantaneously, in a moment. But God is patient. And just as God took time to create the world (see Genesis 1), so also God takes time to work out his salvation in our lives. Ordinary time. Growth time. Day by day, and week by week, accomplishing his good pleasure and purpose among us. Making us fruitful. Drawing us deeper into divine life and love. God is alive and active in the midst of his people—even in these seemingly “ordinary” days. Our daily lives are the answer we give. How will you live your answer?

In Jesus,

Fr. Jonathan+

P.S. My comments about Pentecost and Trinity rely heavily on the sermons Fr. Nicholas and I preached these past two Sundays. If you weren’t able to attend, you can hear them (and other previous sermons and catechesis classes) on our podcast page!

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