The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time usually takes us by surprise. After having grown accustomed to the beautiful lights, trees, poinsettias and crèche of Christmas time, it is startling to see the simpler decorations of Ordinary Time. Even more surprising is when one notices that this is the SECOND Sunday in Ordinary Time! We certainly lead busy lives, but how did that First Sunday in Ordinary Time pass by us unnoticed?
In the Catholic Church, the feast of The Baptism of the Lord supersedes the Sunday that would have carried the name “First Sunday in Ordinary Time.” Due to the feast, Ordinary Time began this past Monday, thus when we arrive at liturgy this weekend we will have already celebrated a week of Ordinary Time, bringing us to the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.
As Roman Catholics, we are now journeying together in the phase of liturgical season called Tempus Annum or “Ordinary Time” which simply means “counted time,” since the Sundays of Ordinary Time, are expressed numerically. Ordinary Time occurs in two segments and is counted by 34 Sundays. It is the longest season of the liturgical year. During this winter period, we count our way toward the penitential season of Lent and the high point of Easter. After the season of Easter and Pentecost we will resume our count toward the First Sunday of Advent.
It is good to remind ourselves that this “Ordinary Time” does not mean that the celebration of the liturgy will be mundane. Granted, we will not experience the high and low points of the major feasts that focus on Jesus’ birth, Passion and resurrection. Rather, however, the readings during Ordinary Time will focus on various aspects of the mystery of Christ, his life, miracles and teachings. It is a time in which our lives are ordered around the mystery of the Eucharist. We celebrate our daily call to follow Jesus, realizing that he is not only found on the mountain top or in the valley, but he is also found walking alongside each of us.
Traditionally the color for this season is green, and it is a fitting choice. Green has long been associated with new life, growth and faithfulness. Amidst the starkness of winter we notice the tall, green stately evergreens, holding their color and needles through even the coldest and darkest of times; being for us a sign of hope, and triumph of life over death.
Winter Ordinary Time is an excellent season to have an extraordinary encounter with Christ. The hustle and bustle of Christmas has calmed down. Now with longer hours of darkness we have more time for rest and contemplative peace. As this weekend’s Gospel reminds us, during this time, all of us are to strive, like John the Baptist, to become messengers of the Gospel by strengthening our prayer life, by meditating on the Scriptures, and by rekindling our love of Christ through eucharistic devotion.
Each Sunday when you gather for Eucharist make it an experience of “living Sunday well,” from Monday to Saturday. Lived well, Ordinary Time can help us to be open to God’s goodness, blessings and riches within, in the family, church and society. In that way, we can experience the really extraordinary in the ordinary for God is here, present, just waiting for us to recognize his many blessings.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.