Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer
July 21, 2021 // Perspective

Ordinary Time, growing time

Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer

With long summer days upon us, pregnant with hazy, humid air and green grass growing long in the field, the Church’s liturgical calendar celebrates Ordinary Time.  For weeks upon weeks, in fact the longest stretch of any season of the liturgical year, ordinary time is marked by the color green.  

For the faithful in the Northern Hemisphere, the green color coordinates well the spiritual desire hoped for in this season, that is, a time of growth and maturation, living deeper and the life of Christ. New growth in nature often holds a light green hue, while the green of summer is bright, fresh and full of life, almost an illuminant, kelly green, from the maple leaves on the full trees, fields of barley and grain to the lush grass soaking up the sun and the rain. 

Well-trained gardeners emphasize numerous, different shades of green and leaf shapes during this time of year to showcase the beauty of the verdant, summer growth.  The Gospels proclaimed through the summer days also show depth and the variety of Christ’s own example of how to be His disciple. 

In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Ordinary Time is described to children as “the growing season.”  This simple descriptor highlights well the truth of the everyday, Christian life. During this season, we celebrate the complete mystery of Jesus Christ, His life, teachings, miracles and words, in order to better follow Him as disciples.  This is a time of daily labor and hot toil but also rest and recreation. How are we to orientate ourselves to the new, verdant life? 

Ordinary Time is derived from the word “ordinal,” meaning to count.  The word “ordinary” is used as the weeks are ordered or numbered, from Christmas to Lent and Easter to Advent.  

In common American English parlance, the word “ordinary” often has a bad rap as meaning dull or boring.  But the Catholic understanding of the word is rich and bountiful, especially in light of this liturgical season.  

Two highlights of this season can enrich our spiritual lives. The first is observing and pondering God’s own life in human history. By re-reading sacred Scripture slowly and inviting the Holy Spirit to be present, we can remember God’s awesome and incredible actions in the everyday and the ordinary days of human life. 

In the Bible, God came to people who were busy with the daily tasks of their life.  He came to Abraham while he kept his flocks, Joseph while he slept. God sent His messenger angels while people were working in the fields, watching their sheep or praying silently in their homes, hidden from the pomp and show of flashy public view. As recorded in the book of Kings 19:12, God came to Elijah not in a loud earthquake or visually, stunning fire, but in “a light silent sound,” sometimes translated as a whisper.

God is mysterious and ultimately ungraspable, but present to the quiet and simple of heart, those who attune their ear to His sound.  

Reading God’s word in the Bible can renew and refresh us in a way unlike anything else. The Holy Spirit can speak to us to through His word, which is ever living and ever new. Mediating upon the daily or Sunday Gospel throughout one’s week is a small practice that can remind our souls of Christ’s choices in His life and better direct ours. 

Secondly, Ordinary Time is a period for such careful retuning, a return to a correct ordering of our lives. From the very first book of the Bible, God shows a divine order to the natural world. As humans, men and women, we fit well into that order and do well to know our place. We are created beings, created by God. In our own lives, we find joy in keeping His order in our souls, our actions, our words, but also daily areas, such as our homes, our closets, cars and monthly financial budgets. And what a peace we can experience when we follow God’s commandments and celebrate the Sunday as a day of rest and recreation, instead of commercial trade and work.  

This summer can serve as an opportune time to re-order our lives back to God. We can choose to rest and be re-created in His image during our vacation or time off from work and school.  Like the teeming grass and lilies along in every country road, we can choose to thrive in God’s order and hope for our lives.  This might mean pulling some weeds of sin and bitter roots entrenched deep in our souls: But the mercy and love of God is stronger and available daily through the sacraments that can aright our wills back to the One who made them, especially through reconciliation and holy Eucharist.

We, too, can choose to flourish in Ordinary Time, to strengthen our souls with rich words of Scripture, sitting in the presence of the Son at adoration and growing good fruit for our beloved God. 

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