Today is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Ordinary Time of the Church’s Year is the longest season of the Liturgical Calendar. It is broken into two parts. The first part begins after Christmas Season, that is, after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The second part begins on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday; and ends on the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent of the following Liturgical Year. The liturgical color for this season is green.
A few days ago, a friend commented, “Thank God we are now in Ordinary Time, nothing serious is happening in the Church, so we can take time off and relax.” In response, I told her to be careful and not let the name, “Ordinary Time” mislead her. A Christian must never take time off from being a Christian. The “job” of being a Christian is 24/7. “Ordinary” does not mean that it is inferior to the other seasons. It describes a season that is not restricted to a particular aspect of the mystery of the life of Christ. Advent Season focuses on the preparation for the mystery of the Incarnation, the Birth of Christ. Christmas Season focuses on the mystery of the birth of Christ. Lenten season focuses on the mystery of the suffering, passion, and death of Christ. Easter Season focuses on the mystery of the Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, culminating in the mystery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the year falls under the Ordinary Time of the Year.
Having reflected on the specific aspects of the mystery of Christ in the other seasons, Ordinary Time becomes a time when Christians bear fruit in their lives based on their reflections on the life of Christ in the other seasons. Instead of seeing Ordinary Time as a “Christian Time-Out,” Ordinary Time is when the real work should begin for Christians. It is time to blossom in the world based on the grace we have received from the life of Christ, which we reflected on in the other seasons. The liturgical color, green, reminds us of the green leaves of plants. The greenness of leaves is a testimony to the nutrients the plant has received from the ground, from the sun, and from the atmosphere. The plant with the green leaves goes further to flower and bear fruits to feed the world.
The relationship between Ordinary Time and the other seasons of the liturgical year is like that between the Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke is the author of both works. In the Gospel according to Luke, we see the life of Jesus Christ, and in the Acts of the Apostles, we see the life of Christians patterned after the life of Christ. For example, the event of the martyrdom of Stephen shows that Stephen rehearsed and lived the Crucifixion of Christ. So, Ordinary Time is when we get into the hard work of showing the world, what we received from Christ in the other seasons, it is the time we blossom and shine as Christians to sanctify the world.
In today’s first reading, God reminds the Church, the new Israel, through the Prophet Isaiah, “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” The season of Ordinary Time is the time to live out this responsibility of being the light to the nations. The light does not necessarily add anything to what is in existence, it reveals the beauty that is in existence. For example, John became a light in the Gospel passage when he revealed Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” He knew something good about Jesus that others did not know. He knew that would turn people’s attention from him to Jesus, but he went on to shine his light on Jesus, to reveal him to the world.
As we begin this first part of the Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year, let us examine ourselves as Christians. Do I shine my light on others to reveal the beauty in them for the world to see? Do I divert people’s attention from the beauty of others? When I read a post on social media, do I only point out what I think is wrong so as to distract people from the rest of the work? Do I describe people by their disabilities or their abilities? Am I afraid of letting others shine? Why do we persecute people when they are alive only to canonize them when they die? My dearly beloved in Christ, I have another suggestion for New Year’s resolution as we begin this New Year. Let us agree as a family, as friends, as coworkers, etc. to meet in-person or virtually once every week or every month. The agenda for the meeting is to go round the table to tell each member one wonderful thing about them, just shine your light on one of their good qualities. Let us resolve for this year that if there is something negative about them, we will not say it to anyone except to God in prayer. We will only shine our lights on their good sides, and by so doing, their good sides will suffocate their bad sides. Let us not wait until their funeral before we say how they were the best creatures of God. Let us say it while they are still alive. As we accept this resolution, may the light that shines from Christ through us dispel all the forces of darkness, until we come to our heavenly inheritance; through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.