Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

In Ordinary Time, our Savior can bring order to our chaotic lives

Published: January 19, 2019

By Father Erik Pohlmeier
Director of Faith Formation

After the long press of holiday season it makes sense to most people to think about this time of year as ordinary time. There are lots of comments about getting back to normal. People are now deciding whether to stick with New Year’s resolutions, to eat better and get more exercise. Better health decisions seem more possible because the time seems more ordinary and the temptations fewer.

In the Church we mark this period officially as Ordinary Time, but we don’t really mean it in the common sense of unexceptional or less celebratory. It isn’t just a lull between Advent, Christmas and Lent. Liturgically speaking, Ordinary Time marks Jesus’ public ministry and with Gospel stories of healing and conversion there is much to celebrate.

In the most ordinary of moments God is present and real spirituality is the ability to recognize his presence. Only in Jesus can seemingly normal life be celebrated as God intends. 

Ordinary Time is not about being less exciting, but about being well ordered. This time takes its name from the use of ordinal numbers in marking the weeks (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.) There are spiritual benefits to be gained from marking time according to the Church’s calendar. This time of year many people are looking for ways to capture some order. After what can feel like a fun but frantic time, some order is part of recovery so that we can thrive in all aspects of life.

The birth of Jesus isn’t just a story of a cute baby, but a Savior. We are in need of a Savior and the baby comes so that God’s Word can speak to our lives. Just as God brought order to chaos in the creation of the universe, God is the one who brings order to our lives. Without God speaking in and through us we lack purpose and meaning. The whole of the Gospel is God revealing himself in Jesus. The Gospel relates how God walked among us to teach and guide, to heal and forgive.

In the most ordinary of moments God is present and real spirituality is the ability to recognize his presence. Only in Jesus can seemingly normal life be celebrated as God intends. “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) An ordered life doesn’t always mean a predictable life. It doesn’t mean you always have things under control and avoid struggles. An ordered life is one that has perspective and takes care to include what is necessary for human thriving in God.

It means that prayer is not something we do when convenient, but is an anchor for the predictable unpredictability. It means that we allow God to take the lead and actively seek his will. “Seek first the Kingdom of God … and all things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33) Let January be a time of more than a New Year’s resolution. Let it be a time of seeking God.

Start this year with the kind of prayer that asks God to bring order to your life and the kind of humility that is willing to follow his lead. Take a closer look at how the Church’s calendar marks the days. Discover the daily Scriptures that reveal the whole life of Jesus and the saints who reflect well-ordered lives in the midst of struggles.

Spend Ordinary Time well and come to know Jesus well. Then, when the holidays roll back around and you celebrate the reason for the season, the message of peace and goodwill will resonate with glory to God in the highest.