The Last Word - July 2020

Ordinary time?

Over these recent months, the coronavirus pandemic has consumed so much of our time and attention.  At this point, even the majority of television commercials mention it in some way.  This is starting to wear on us now, and we may even be tired of hearing things like, “We’re all in this together.”

There is a certain irony to being in the middle of the current liturgical season.  With the end of the Easter season, we have resumed the post-Pentecost period we call “Ordinary Time.”  Truth be told, the coronavirus pandemic has made this time anything but ordinary. Yet, the Church calendar presses on, and with good reason: regardless of what is going on in our world, the eucharistic liturgy of the Catholic Church is equipped to encounter it, to pray about it, and to respond to it.

During this pandemic, our expectations have been turned upside down. Ordinary things have to be done in extraordinary ways. The recent protests against the mandated lockdowns as well as the protests demanding racial equality have added a somber weight to our situation.

Yet, even in less turbulent times, there is nothing ordinary about ordinary time. Weekend after weekend, we experience the parables, the miracles, and the ministry of Jesus, our Savior.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It can be easy for us to question this, especially given everything we have had to endure this year. Once we work through our fluctuating feelings of loneliness, boredom, anger, and confusion, we hopefully recognize that the answer to all of our questions and concerns is Jesus.

By design, ordinary time is intended to bring order to the confusion and chaos. This time in the Church reminds us that there is a harmony, an order, and a succession to our daily lives.  The incarnation of Christ demonstrates to us that God has entered our messy world to clean it up and to bring us His calming love. God truly has a plan for us.

All these trials in 2020 have made it clearer than ever that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Back in 1998, Pope John Paul II wrote Fides et Ratio, “faith and reason.”  Note that this now saint reminded us that the traditions, beliefs, and practices of our religion are rooted in both faith and reason, not simply faith or reason. God gave us both; we do not have to choose one over the other because genuine faith and reason cannot contradict one another. Both lead to the Truth, the Eternal Word made flesh in the person of Jesus, who is the Way of Life for us to follow.  In other words, trusting in both our faith and reason will lead us to the order, tranquility, and peace that God desires to provide us in this life, in preparation for the life to come.

Amid these challenges, day in and day out, may we recognize the extraordinary love God has for us during this ordinary time.

Father Kevin T. Upham is parochial vicar of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes