For the past six months, except for a few weeks in January and February, we have been living in special liturgical seasons; celebrating the mysteries of our faith. Now, after the Solemnity of Corpus Christi last weekend we truly enter the season of Ordinary Time. As you know it actually started after our Pentecost Vesper service, but for the past two weeks Holy Mother Church has celebrated special Solemnities, Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi for our edification and growth in faith.
But now we enter a period that, for the most part seems to be without special celebrations – just ‘normal Masses’; nothing can be further from the truth. A Mass can never be considered as ‘just normal’ and Ordinary Time is anything but ordinary. In fact, ordinary is a translation from the Latin that probably is better translated as ordered. We are now in the period that though we don’t intensely celebrate the great mysteries, we are called to listen to Christ and learn how to put these events, the mysteries, to use as disciples. These next six months we are back in school, the school of discipleship.
What use is it for us to contemplate the eschatological import of God’s plan for us if we don’t use that knowledge to the betterment of ourselves and others?
What use is it for us to reflect on the great events of the incarnation and nativity, if we don’t take to heart what His coming means for us?
What use is it for us to focus on our actions and attitudes if we don’t continue to gauge them against Christ’s greatest lesson of the Cross?
What use is it for us to celebrate the reason for our hope if it doesn’t cause us to change and radiate even better this hope to those we meet?
This call of continuing to change our lives and grow more into discipleship is what our journey is about and in a certain way is what this season is helping us with. Through our participation in Mass during Ordinary Time we will hear Christ teach us the meaning of being a disciple, His words and those of His apostles will urge us to love as He does, to work for His people, to grow as a child of God and to place total trust in His message and above all in Him – to give ourselves over to His mercy. This is not an easy task – it can be very uncomfortable and even frightening because is calls for abandonment of our will to His. His Holiness Pope Francis commented in a homily about this reticence: “It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must!…The Lord never tires of forgiving: never!”
That we need His help is, for those who are honest, a fact. Each of us need only to think back on just last month to see this need. Satan and evil are very real and very active; man’s fallen nature makes us easy prey for his wiles and intrigues. Our desire to follow Christ can be submerged within us if we allow fear of the cross and doubt of Christ’s promises to control us.
A response to these fears and a prayer against them is today’s entrance antiphon:
‘The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; whom should I dread?
When those who do evil draw near, they stumble and fall.’
This antiphon, from the beginning of Psalm 27, points out that: First, evil will draw near, ‘when’ means it will happen. But second: it alludes to the failure of this evil when we allow the Lord to guide us, to protect us. This we must do, this we must learn to allow – allow the Lord to take us, lead us, and His embrace will protect us. Satan, shivers at these words, he quakes at anyone who takes them to heart for he knows that we will be surrounded by the hosts of God. So let’s enter into this school of discipleship and grow in our knowledge of the Lord and submit to His loving curriculum. Let us embrace the abyss of His mercy, as Pope Francis so aptly put it.