The Extraordinary Time
By: David Philippart
“Notice! Don’t miss the extraordinary in the ordinary!” When Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Margaret Brennan, died on April 28 at the age of 92, one of her sisters in religion, Diane McCormack, IHM recalled this as one of Margaret’s most oft-repeated encouragements. Margaret “knew God by heart,” Diane said of the prophetic leader, pioneer theologian, spiritual director, teacher, and scholar. “Prayer was who she was” (National Catholic Reporter, May 20, 2016). Let’s take Margaret Brennan’s advice to heart here at Old Saint Patrick as we re-enter the period in our calendar known as “Ordinary Time.” For if by “ordinary” one means “mundane,” or “boring,” or “nothing special,” then there is no such time for those of us who are baptized into Christ (or wanting to be so). As disciples of Jesus, every moment of every day of every week of every season offers us the chance to know, love, and serve God and others, to be loved in return, and to take good care of others and ourselves. “Notice! Don’t miss the extraordinary in the ordinary!” Maybe that’s why some Christians call these days and weeks now “after Pentecost.” We are people on fire with the Holy Spirit, hearts longing to show others the love and mercy that God has shown us, in ways spectacular and simple, the simple being as profound as the spectacular (Notice it! “Don’t miss the extraordinary in the ordinary!”). So today, what we efficiently label as the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, other Christian communities refer to as the Third Sunday after Pentecost. Both are simply ways of organizing the portions of the gospel we haven’t read yet since this year of grace began at sunset last November 28—the gospel of Luke this particular year. A little bit of Luke each Lord’s Day—lections in the lectionary! Our Latin Tempus ordinarium might be better translated as “ordered” or “ordinal time,” to avoid the contemporary nuances of the word “ordinary.” In fact, our days are numbered: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. Our own individual deaths, or the end of history, will come—one or the other. And we know what we have to do in the meantime: Love the Living God, with all our heart, with all our being, with all our strength, and with all our mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Luke 10: 25-28—the greatest commandment. A holy priest I know who has since gone to God once observed that much of the world’s misery stems from the fact that we do love God and neighbor as we love ourselves— not very much and not very well.) We’ll be reminded of this, the very reason for our being, on the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 10. We’ll also hear Jesus’ stunning answer to the question “But who is my neighbor?” So marvelous, meaty portions of chapters 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of the Gospel of Luke will be our rich fare these Sundays from now until we embark upon our Season of Social Justice on Sunday, August 7. This is the central part of the Gospel of Luke, the telling of Jesus’ mission and ministry as he makes his way to Jerusalem to suffer, die, rise, ascend and send—first the Spirit on us, and then us into the world. We read the first part of Luke back at Christmas. And we read the climax on Palm and Easter Sundays. Now it’s time to dive into the middle, into the details, into the everyday stuff of Jesus. Let’s jump into Luke with the enthusiasm of a kid diving into Lake Michigan on a hot summer’s day, with ears attuned and eyes peeled that we may notice the extraordinary ordinary. See you in church!
David Philippart is the liturgy director for Old Saint Patrick’s. He may be reached at davidp@ oldstpats.org or 312.831.9367.