Extraordinary Life in Ordinary Time
Having celebrated The Baptism of The Lord, we return liturgically to Ordinary Time—that time of the liturgical year between the “high holy seasons.” It is during this time that we receive instruction and encouragement to live our ordinary, day-to-day lives—extraordinarily. With his Baptism in the Jordan by John completed, Jesus launches his three years of public ministry and he begins it with The Wedding Feast at Cana.
This first Sunday in Ordinary Time is meant to encourage us in our following of Jesus, well, by “seducing us.” God is not just personally inviting us—God is espousing us. Isaiah foreshadows this:
As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you;
And as a bridegroom
rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
Isaiah describes what is to come for God’s people; Jesus inaugurates it at the Wedding Feast at Cana. Water is made into wine here and, later, bread will be multiplied to feed thousands. But at the culmination of this public ministry will be his passion, death, and resurrection; bread will become his body, wine will become his blood. The espousal and marriage of God to God’s people, Jesus to his Church, will be completed—”Through Him, With Him, and In Him.”
Good question: Does Jesus really rejoice in his bride, the Church? Well, you “very marrieds” out there, when and how often do you rejoice in each other? How about since the kids came along? Has “the bloom gone from the rose”? Just so, I can imagine that when we as Church wander from living life in Christ—living lives of mercy—we may be less than people for God to rejoice in. Likewise, just as when friends or couples rediscover each other and rejoicing is possible again, so too rejoicing in God and God in us returns when mercy is realized and lived.
Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Well, yes, because the human dynamic of mercy regards the neighbor as “to-be-loved”; that is, as someone who must be loved. This is Life in Christ. “The Good Samaritan,” for instance, was exceptional to the others in that parable because he cared enough to make a difference, to act with compassion—to live ordinary life extraordinarily. Jesus turned bread into his body and wine into his blood for us, because we were like “sheep without a shepherd”; we just needed that kind of mercy—that kind of “must” love.
With the choice of today’s readings, then, the Church signals to us that our ordinary lives must be first understood as being lived as the committed marriage that it is—Jesus to us and we, the Church, to him. All Christian life finds its ultimate meaning and purpose within the context of this espousal and marriage. With immeasurable love, God proposes to us through his Son, with him and in him. WE ACCEPT!
Happy Ordinary Time—Msgr. Richard