Saturday, the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 4: 12-16, Mark 2: 13-17)
The decorations have been stored away, and the cookies and desserts have been consumed. With the passing of the Christmas season, we have moved into Ordinary Time. Having left the angels and stars, the shepherds, and kings behind, we are now turning our attention to the life and ministry of the one whom the Father acknowledged as he exited the Jordan, “This is my dearly beloved son, who brings me great joy” (Mat. 3:17). He who leaped down from his celestial throne and left the security of the home in Nazareth calls us, inviting us to follow him as he journeys through life. Ordinary time is a time of conversion. Like Abraham before us, we are called to “leave our native land, and our kindred and the comforts of our father’s house” (CF. Gen. 12:1). Having left all, we find ourselves freer to walk with the One who came to walk with us.
Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation. As we set out on the journey, we allow the mystery of Christ heralded by the angels to penetrate our hearts and transform our lives. Like the ever-virgin Mary, we are invited to ponder all these things in our heart (CF. Lk. 2:19) until Christ is all in all (CF. Col. 3:11). During Ordinary Time we are invited to contemplate the everyday life of Christ and to conform our everyday life to His. Christ came in search of us so “we can confidently approach the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16). On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis shared this insight: “the true justice of God is the mercy that saves. We are afraid to think that God is mercy, but God is mercy because his justice is indeed the mercy that saves, it is the love that shares our human condition, that makes itself close, in solidarity with our suffering, entering into our darkness to restore the light.” In a 2008 homily, Pope Benedict said: “God desired to save us by going to the bottom of this abyss himself so that every person, even those who have fallen so low that they can no longer perceive Heaven, may find God’s hand to cling to and rise from the darkness to see once again the light for which he or she was made.”
During Ordinary Times we come into contact with him who is “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus Christ who is God’s love made tangible offers us mercy to pardon our sins and grace to purify our souls. The Beloved Son who is nearest the Father’s heart took to himself the nature of a slave so that sinners might be set free from their bondage. The Word became one of us so that he might be our companion as we journey through life. He took our humanity to himself so that we might share his divinity. When he comes again in glory, may he bring us all together to everlasting life. I will leave you with a few words taken from the Pastoral Rule of St. Gregory the Great: “Amid the shipwreck of the present life, sustain me, I beseech you, by the plank of your prayer, that, since my weight sinks me down, the hand of your merit will raise me up.”