LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Not So Ordinary Time

By Kathleen Cosgrove

Quick, which week in Ordinary Time is it? Easy, it's the...thirteenth? Twentieth? Ordinary Time is an easy period for us to become a bit complacent with our faith, simply because it seems not to mean anything. It's harder to care about numbers than it is to care about Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, the Ascension, feast days or holy days of obligation. What's more, Ordinary Time in the United States falls during those gorgeous summer months and hectic "back to school" days of fall that make it so tempting to put Christ and the Church on the backburner of our lives. Attendance dwindles on especially beautiful days, vacation planning is paramount, and did you hear the latest about X team's chance on the Road to October?

Wait, where was I? Right, this past Sunday was the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. And for many Catholics, it was just another numbered Sunday to attend Mass and clock in our hour of spending time with the Lord; another ordinary Sunday in Ordinary Time. The term 'ordinary' shouldn't have connotations of average or common. In fact, it comes from the Latin ordinalis, or ordered; a time, without feasts or reparation, when we live out our vocations to be Catholics and to act as Christ in our daily lives. Instead of celebrating the joys of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter or offering penance for our sins during Lent and Advent, the USCCB tells us that during Ordinary Time, we should be growing in our faith and meditating on whether we are trying to follow Christ's example in our own lives.

If we are really invested in our faith and in the words of Jesus Christ, then during Ordinary Time we can't be punching the card on Sundays and waiting for the next big feast day. Catholics are called to a higher standard than just the minimum, average, ordinary. This means when we are faced with annoyances at work, difficulties at home, financial struggles, and even daily boredom, we remember that we are still called to follow Christ, to choose our path as He would. Two Sundays ago, we heard a surprising Gospel reading, "[a]nd another said, 'I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.' Jesus said, 'No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God'" (Luke 9:61-62).

Doesn't it seem odd that Jesus would tell us to abandon our families to follow Him? How can those of us with children reconcile this message? We can't forget, even in summertime when the living is easy, that as Catholics we are called to a higher standard of life than the conventional or average. We aren't called to leave loved ones behind, but to remember that Jesus Christ and His Church should be the center of our lives. And there is nothing ordinary about truly living the life of Christ.

This article has been reprinted here by permission of the author after original publication at Encourage and Teach, published by the Diocese of Arlington.

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