Ordinary to Extraordinary

by Fr. John Parks  |  06/09/2024  |  Weekly Reflection

It’s summer. It’s June, and it’s hot. And although the summer has just begun, it feels like we are already in the “dog days of summer.” There can be a ho-hum attitude about the summer days as they roll on—hot and interminable.

A similar mindset can afflict us as Catholics as we think about ordinary time in the liturgical year. It is easy to get excited for Advent as we prepare for Christmas, or to be in a spirit of penitence as we enter the practices of Lent longing for Easter. But Ordinary time? It can feel so, well—ordinary.

The truth is ordinary time is anything but. Ordinary time is about the extraordinary call of Jesus to discipleship, to conform every part of our life to his Lordship and love. In fact, the word that most encapsulates Ordinary Time is “imitatio”, a Latin word for “imitation”. We are called as followers of Jesus to become like Jesus. That is a shocking claim, but the New Testament is replete with language explicating just that. As Saint Paul says, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me (Galatians 2:20).” Or as Peter says in his New Testament letter we become—by grace—“partakers of the divine nature.” God wants to live inside of you and through you, and by that means you are conformed to him.

Ordinary time can feel basic, and in a sense, it is because it is about the “nuts and bolts” of the Christian life--listening to Jesus, reforming our life, praying, frequenting the sacraments, growing in virtue, living out Christian fellowship, etc. But it is not ordinary when you consider the end of those things—to become “Godlike”, to more and more imitate the One who loves us from all eternity. As St. Gregory of Nyssa once remarked, “The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God”, and there is nothing ordinary about that.