You perhaps noticed that the bulletins changed colors last week from the gold of Christmastide to the familiar green of ordinary time. While some regard the brief period beginning with Epiphany and ending with the Feast of the Presentation on February 2 as Epiphanytide, most, however, see the Sunday after Epiphany as being part of Ordinary time.
The calendar is structured around three cycles: preparation (Advent, Lent), celebration (Christmas, Easter), and realization (the time after Pentecost and Epiphany). During preparation, we do just that. We fast and pray. We spiritually prepare for the coming reality. During celebration, we do just that. We feast and play. We spiritually exult in the fulfillment of what we have been waiting for. During realization we practice all of the implication of the reality we have experience.
Unfortunately, some hear the words, Ordinary time, and think of it as the opposite of extraordinary. But it’s not that at all. In fact, there are some extraordinary events on the calendar celebrated during this time. Trinity Sunday, Christ the King, The Baptism of Jesus, just to name a few.
In order to understand what is meant by the nomenclature of ordinary we need to go back to our basic math class and remember when we learned about different ways of counting. We learned we could count with cardinal numbers (one, two, three…) and with ordinal numbers (first, second, third…). It’s from the latter that we derive the title ordinary time because during this time—in contrast to the Sunday of Easter and of Advent and of Christmas and of Lent—these Sundays are simply referred to as First, Second, Third, et cetera.
It is particularly fortuitous that the beginning of Ordinary time—the time of realization and practice—also falls very closely to the beginning of our cultural calendar year; the time when many will set out to make physical, emotional, financial, and whatever I have left out, goals for their lives. Perhaps you have made some of these yourself.
Might you consider making spiritual progress during this time as well? Perhaps you will go and take a Bible reading plan and attempt to read the Bible through this year. Maybe you will try to read the Bible as a family more often than you have. Perhaps families and husbands and wives will begin praying together in way not done before. Maybe church attendance and involvement is something to be improved upon. Possibly giving and generosity will increase.
We are all different and in different places. At the same time, we are really not all that different; all of us are in need of further applying the gospel to our lives and living out the realization of Christ’s kingdom and our place in it.