Homily – January 19, 2014

There’s nothing ordinary about the ordinary

Have you ever had the feeling of a big letdown after coming home from a vacation or after a great Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration? The party’s over and we’re back to the ordinary, boring day after boring day with its routine, regularity and its predictability. We’re back to the ordinary living of our ordinary lives. Gone are the carefree days of vacation when we could just sit back, relax and enjoy. Gone are busy and exciting days of preparing and anticipating some fun and celebration. We are back in the land of ‘blah’. Same old, same old.

As church, as the people of God we’ve just finished a rash of festivities. In the past weeks we celebrated Christmas, New Year’s, the feast of Mary, the mother of God, the feast of the Epiphany and finally the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. We are all ‘feasted’ out. Now we settle down to what the church calls ‘ordinary’ time.

But ordinary time can be anything but ordinary. It can be a time filled with possibilities. We have time, a quiet time to ponder the teachings of Jesus when we hear the gospels Sunday after Sunday tells us of the daily doings and teachings of Jesus. We can see how Jesus reached out and touched and changed the humdrum lives of so many men and women. In this ordinary time we can find the time to question ourselves as to how faithfully we follow the lessons Jesus taught and the example Jesus gave us.

There is a teaching about the importance of the grace of the present moment. That’s what ordinary time is all about, being aware of God’s presence, love and life in whatever we are doing right here, right now. If we are open to what lies hidden in the ordinary, our ordinary can be far from being ordinary. Think of these ordinary things we do each day and what they can teach us.

Being grateful that we can get out of bed in the morning knowing that there are other men and women can’t, brings us to a deeper appreciation of our own good health. Grateful we can eat a hearty breakfast can remind us of the harsh truth that so many men, women and children begin the day and live the day hungry. Deciding what we will wear could make us conscious of the fact that so many people have nothing to wear but the clothes on their backs. Going off to work or school we might think of the many men and women in the country who can’t find work and that education is for the privileged in many places. We take for granted that at the end of the day we can come home to a roof over our heads and that might make us more aware of the fact this is a far off dream for so many of our brothers and sisters around the world, especially those displaced by the civil wars destroying countries in the Middle East.

If sickness or the stress of being out of work, if struggling with the limitations of mind and body that old age brings our way, all these can be occasions of our own personal growth by trusting that accepting these realities and working through them makes us one with the suffering Christ who was one like us in all things and suffered and died for each one of us.

In this ordinary, down time in our live Jesus wants each of us to reach out to a friend, to a stranger, to someone we like, to someone we’d like to ignore and touch them with a kind word, an encouraging word, loving word to show them they are loved and cared for.

When we travel to another country we are bound by the laws of that country. We may protest,’ that’s not the way it is where I come from’. It doesn’t matter. The law works from the feet up. It is the same with the grace of God. God’s grace, love and life work from the feet up. They are available where ever we are and they are to be shared where ever we are. Some people find their spiritual life is deepened by a pilgrimage to a shrine. God’s grace and love and life are there, surely. But it is back home, where live and work and love, where we rub shoulders with people we know, people we don’t know that we are given the grace to make the best of this ordinary time.

May God give us the grace to see and realise the possibilities that are ours in this ordinary time, living our ordinary lives.