On Tuesday, we began what is called Ordinary Time in the Church’s liturgical year. The world tends to associate ordinary with being commonplace, average, routine, even dull. However, one theme of Ordinary Time is just the opposite, the adventure of knowing that God is with us in all circumstances of life, recognizing seemingly ordinary days as times when our lives are changing for good or ill, and seeing the apparently average person as one whom God calls as a prince or princess of His greater kingdom.
We should recognize that Jesus lived in a seemingly ordinary family, in a small out of the way town, for thirty years before His three years in public ministry. It was there, in the hidden life of Nazareth, that the greatest events in human history would unfolding. Likewise, He called His Apostles from the common people or (as with Matthew) from the even more unlikely rank of tax collectors. And, in at least five cases, and probably more, He summoned them while they were at work, in fishing or at the customs post, as God called David, Moses, and the shepherds of Bethlehem for their great missions while they were herding their flocks. Probably none of them realized, when they came to work that day, than their lives would be changed forever. And when the Bible describes King David as the shepherd of God’s people and the Apostles as “fishers of men,” see 1 Sam. 5:2, 7:7, Matt. 4:16, Mark 1:17, Luke 5:10, the implication is that, when these workingmen were developing their talents at seemingly ordinary labor, God was actually forming in them the skills needed to bring His salvation to earth.
God used seemingly ordinary events in salvation history in part to make it clear to us that we should not wait for unusual times or clearly outstanding people in order to respond the promptings of the Holy Spirit. On Christmas Day, 1624, the English poet and divine John Donne preached a sermon entitled, “All times are God’s season.” The theme was that, although there are specific times and seasons for different crops and the trading of different goods, all times are a season in which the grace of God can work miracles in the human heart. During Ordinary Time, the Church encourages us to be open to the workings of God on all days, in every circumstance, and through every person, and thus allow the glory of God to shine upon us.