I’ve been reflecting a lot on Ordinary Time lately. So much of our lives are spent in ordinary time — washing dishes, doing laundry, waiting for the red light to turn green. There’s a whole lot of ordinary in life and the challenge for the Christian is to turn the ordinary into the holy.
There’s the story of the woman who turned the daily action of putting in her contact lenses into a prayer of gratitude for the gift of sight. In doing so, she transformed the mundane routine of her daily existence into an opportunity to connect with her God. As a child, my mother used prayer as she taught me to bake: “Mix the batter for as long as it takes to say a Hail Mary . . .” I have to admit, I still say a few Hail Marys when I bake a cake! Making the ordinary a conduit for our ongoing spiritual growth is an essential skill for us saints-in-the-making. If we wait for our spiritual growth to happen in the extraordinary events of life, we may be waiting for a long time.
I’ve always liked the definition of a mystic as someone who sees the “ordinary in an extraordinary way.” Our green liturgical season — Ordinary Time — invites us into this way of seeing. It calls us to take daily routine activities and see in them an opportunity to connect with God. This is the discipline that made our ancestors holy as they baked their bannock and tilled their fields and raised their children on this prairie landscape.
The readings of this Ordinary Time give us a great deal of good advice for dealing with our everyday human experiences. See God as a “saving refuge” when we feel buffeted by life. Let our souls cling to God when times are tough. Remember that God is with us when we mourn. Know that God has adopted us as children when we feel isolated. Celebrate that we have all been created equal and that there is “no longer Jew or Greek . . . male or female.” Each human experience is a potential conduit to a closer relationship with God. Scripture invites us into making those connections.
In this week’s gospel, Jesus acts in a peculiar way. When Peter professes his faith and correctly identifies Jesus as the “Christ of God,” he is told to keep quiet about it. Why would Jesus want to keep his true identity a secret? Because he knew that the people held false expectations of the Messiah. They wanted a triumphant leader who would save them from their oppression with a brilliant show of force. They wanted bells and whistles and extraordinary acts from their Anointed One.
But Jesus knew salvation doesn’t come in this way. Salvation comes through humble service, through everyday solidarity with those who are suffering, through letting go of our lives (our false selves) to better be able to enter into full communion with our God and each other. Jesus was extraordinary not so much for his miraculous deeds but for his willingness to be God’s faithful servant whatever the consequences of that fidelity might be. As his followers, we are called to do the same.
Being faithful in the small things, letting our daily routines become prayer, using the ordinary times of our lives as pathways to God, these are the lessons of this Ordinary Time. May our ordinary seasons become ever more fertile ground for God to plant seeds of holiness within our hearts!
Rompré is the director of Mission and Ministry at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.