Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time Jer 20:10-13 Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 Rom 5:12-15 Mt 10:26-33
Even though we have been in Ordinary Time for the last several weeks, we are celebrating our first Sunday of Ordinary Time since the close of the Easter season. Think of what we have gone through since the last time we celebrated a Sunday of Ordinary Time. It has truly been an extraordinary time.
We have experienced a pandemic, the sudden collapse of our economy and the irruptions of nationwide protests and riots rooted in our country’s original sin of racism that cannot seem to be exorcised.
But in a parallel and deeper sense, we have experienced an extraordinary time of penance and reconciliation, of grace and mercy as we walked as pilgrims within the seasons of Lent and Easter and celebrated the feasts of Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi.
With all this in mind, what does it mean to go back to Ordinary Time? Does it mean we simply go back to normal or the way things were? Regarding what is happening in our secular world, we are not really through all these events and their effects will be with us for months if not years.
It is possible, however, to imagine a time when these events fade into history. But it cannot or should not be possible with the spiritual events described above.
Why are they so different? We celebrate them every year. Yes, but as I wrote, we go through these events as pilgrims. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus allow the events and the grace of the Paschal Mystery to permeate every moment of our life. As those who are baptized into the life of Christ, nothing about our life really can ever be ordinary again.
The events of Jesus Christ’s life transform us so that we can live as Christ for the sake of the world so that there will be those whose lives offer hope in pandemics, in recessions and in times of turmoil and protest.
We are not exempted from the struggle of such things because of our faith. We should fully expect to bear the weight of these struggles because, as other Christs, we must walk with our brothers and sisters, accompany them as they bear the effects of such disasters, manmade or natural, and offer them another, an extraordinary way of living in this world.
As we live a different way in the midst of these struggles, don’t expect the thanks of others. Rather, expect to be opposed. If we live as other Christs in the midst of these struggles, we will be opposed because he was opposed. This is why Jesus gives encouragement to the apostles and to us in today’s Gospel:
“Fear no one. … What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim to the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; …” (Mt 10:26-28).
Living as other Christs, offering a different path in the face of the fear and conflict caused by disease, poverty, racism and sin, is not an ordinary way of living. Ordinary Time is the time in our pilgrimage in Christ that we are encouraged and taught how to live as disciples so the world itself might be transformed.
For disciples, there is no going back to the way things were, but only identifying with and growing deeper in love with him who makes everything extraordinary.
Msgr. Timothy Keeney is pastor of Incarnation, Charlottesville.