by Orlando Hernandez
Since January 14 we have been observing “Ordinary Time” in our Liturgy. Fr. Victor Hoagland has been pointing out how most of our Church year takes place in this Ordinary Time, and how this reflects the reality of our lives. Our hours, months, and years are mostly made up of ordinary things and activities. We eat, sleep, get up, brush our teeth, work, interact with those nearest to us, and live in those challenges and blessings that they bring to us. We drive past the same stores and barely see the same winter trees along the way. We wear and wash the same clothes. We each have our own routines.
Fr. Victor tells us that it is especially in those moments that the Presence of the Beloved can be found. In an almost “Buddhist” way, he advises us to be mindful of all the experiences we have, no matter how simple or common. There is great Beauty and Light there.
I have been trying. I see a new loveliness in those bare trees, reaching up to heaven. I am suddenly struck by the flavor of morning cereal. At home, I have been picking up different objects that I walk past every day. I feel them in my hands and actually discover things about them: the material they are made of, a craft-person’s signature, a chip or break (when did it happen?). I remind myself of why I have kept these objects around in the first place. They each hold a blessed, special memory of someone I regard, or love.
Suddenly, these objects become luminous with feeling and meaning, leading me to realize that there’s even more to life than just what is there in front of me. My faith is stirred. I feel the presence of my Creator and Savior in a surprising, and yet familiar way. I hope that you have all experienced something like this at some point during your day or week. We are so loved by this good, wonderful God.
The simple, insipid water that occupies our earthen vessels can be unexpectedly changed into the finest wine by realizing that the Holy Spirit of our Creator is here within and around us. We believe, and for a moment experience this “life to the fullest” that our Lord desires for all of us. It can be so easy. All we have to do is think and say, “Jesus!”. He is the vehicle to this life of adventure and wonder. He is why this “Ordinary Time” can be so special to me.
Our Gospel readings once again begin to relate His story to us. Each weekday we again hear about the deeds of our Lord in the action-filled Gospel of Mark. On Sundays we also continue with His story. I suppose we could say, “here we go again, the same old stories all over.” It is strange, but I really never get sick of hearing them. I know some of these Gospels nearly word for word, and still I find something new, or even better, I re-discover something I had lost. Like a child, I am hungry to hear the same tale again and again!
I have written before about my seven-year old granddaughter, how my relationship with her has given Our Heavenly Father a chance to teach me how much He loves us, His children. For a few years now she has driven me crazy by having me read to her the same children’s book again and again. I try to convince her to try out a different story, but no way! She insists on this slightly worn book. Children lose many things, but this one is still around. I tell her that she knows how to read now, so she can read it to me. Well, not this book, I have to read it. As I read, she goes through the same actions she would undertake as a toddler, pushing a dot on a page so that it will change color on the next, shaking the book, counting the dots, answering questions.
I realize this is a ritual that she loves to share with me. Suddenly, in the middle of this “ordinary” activity the extra-ordinary happens; the Light of our amazing, loving God shines all around. I get an insight into the reason for my love of the Liturgy of the Mass. I experience such happiness. Why does He love us like this?
I realize why I love to hear the Gospel stories again and again. This is because it is my Heavenly Papa who is holding me in His arms while He reads them to me.