Faith in the Family
A Swedish furniture company has a slogan in their advertisements: “The wonderful everyday.” That really struck me when I heard it first. I love that idea of finding the wonderful in every day. Since last Sunday, with the Baptism of the Lord, we have returned to what the Church calls Ordinary Time. These weeks of Ordinary Time will carry us right up to Wednesday, February 18 when the season of Lent begins.
It would be easy to think that nothing much happens in Ordinary Time, that perhaps it is an uninteresting period.
We couldn’t be more wrong. In fact there is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time at all. The term comes from the Latin word ordinalis which means ‘numbered’ and indeed we talk about the first, second, third Sunday in Ordinary Time and so on. It may be ordered, but it is far from ordinary.
We have just celebrated the Incarnation and in the coming months we will celebrate the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Those are the high points of our Christian celebrations.
These weeks are more gentle, but the amazing fact remains: Jesus has pitched his tent among us. He has entered into our humanity, to share our life and our death so that we can share in his resurrection. Because of what happens with Jesus, the world is never the same again. Our humanity becomes a place where God is encountered. The ordinary business of daily life becomes a scripture opening us up to the experience of God’s presence.
If we look at the Sunday Gospels for these coming weeks, we find that they are very much about encounter with Jesus. We hear the stories of how Andrew, Peter, James and John are called by Jesus to follow him. These are ordinary men – fishermen – who find themselves in an extraordinary situation.
They meet Jesus in the context of their daily lives and everything gets turned upside down and inside out. The same invitation is extended to us all – adults and children – to meet Jesus in the midst of the ordinary every day, to discover the wonderful every day.
How do we do that? What does it mean to say we meet Jesus in our daily lives? Mostly it is simply about being aware, taking time to notice what is going on in our lives.
If I get up in the morning grumpy, feeling that the world has got it in for me, then I’m likely to experience plenty of things during the day that convince me of that even more.
But if I get up in the morning looking out for the blessings and the goodness that is going to come my way, then I’m more likely to notice them and feel uplifted by them.
At the end of the day, do I gather up the complaints I have or gather the blessings and give thanks to God? If we live reflective lives we become more sensitive to the presence of God that surrounds us. We recognise the presence of Jesus in some of the people we meet and in the impact they have on us.
Over the Christmas holidays my husband, son and daughter went to see the film Unbroken about an Italian-American soldier captured and held by the Japanese during World War II. They were all deeply impressed by the film and talked a lot about it when they came home. It got me thinking about my grandfather’s brother, Fr Joseph McCormack, who was a Maryknoll priest jailed by the Communist Chinese army in 1954.
I did a little research and found that he was accused of being a spy and held in a tiny prison cell for four years where he secretly celebrated Mass every day. It was like something from a film script, but this was my great uncle, a man who was born and brought up on a small farm in Roscommon.
It was through his encounter with Christ and the call to follow him that he found himself living a life he could never even have imagined – an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.
I think of my granny, too. Every evening in her house, we would all kneel down to pray the rosary. After the prayers were done we would get up and begin to move about, but my granny would still be on her knees. I was always fascinated. Looking at her, I reckoned that she must be big pals with God to have so much to say to him.
That relationship with God was something that shone through in her life day-by-day too, in the way she dealt with people, in her closeness to creation, in the way she loved us.
These are the people who shape us and make us who we are. These are the people who give us glimpses of the face of Jesus. Take some time to reflect – who are the people who have brought love into your life? Who has taught you the meaning of forgiveness? Who has brought you healing? Who challenges you to be the fullness of who God has created you to be? Who has shown you what a living faith looks and feels like? Who is the peacemaker? Who is the bringer of wisdom? Who are the people I have met today who have brightened my day and made me glad to be alive? What is the wonderful in my every day?
We are invited over these weeks to encounter Jesus, through the Word of God in the liturgy and through the word of God written in our experience of everyday life. The more we seek his presence, the more we will find Him.
The more we share that sense of blessing with those around us, the more we will discover the extraordinary in ordinary life.