Ordinary Time, the period between Easter season and Advent (and a shorter period between Christmas and Lent) is so named after the ‘ordinal’ way the weeks are numbered. An ordinal number indicates its position or order in relation to other numbers: first, second, third, and so on. The weeks in Ordinary Time are named in the same way. They key concept is “in relation to”. Throughout Ordinary Time, we listen to the stories of Jesus proclaimed in the Gospel, stories that are about relationships, in particular, stories that put everyday life in relation to faith.

Oftentimes people say that Ordinary Time isn’t ordinary, assuming that by ordinary is meant boring or insignificant. The word ‘ordinary’ too takes its name from ordinal, the position in relation to others. An ‘ordinary’ moment in time takes its position in relation to other moments. It is in the cycle of the months of the year, days of the month, and hours of the day that the most significant events of our lives take place. Faith happens in these regular counted repeated units. The most sacred moments are always found in the most ordinary of human experiences: childbirth, death, falling in and out of love, hunger and thirst for food and drink, for justice, for freedom, for knowledge, for being known.

During this long stretch of Ordinary Time, we go to church to hear how Jesus links everyday events like going to work, sickness, or interpersonal conflict to the bigger picture of our soul’s journey to God. Jesus also shows us how to live corporately as a people of faith who establish structures of mercy and justice in the world. In this period we learn how to look at our own everyday stories, our ‘ordinary’ stories, in relation to the extraordinary story of Christ’s dying and rising. We also rehearse how to create tomorrow’s stories so that the world might die and rise with Him.

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