And just like that, Easter is over, though most of us probably forgot it was still Easter four or five weeks ago. After a wild gasp of Alleluias on Easter Sunday, the feeling of joy in the Resurrection faded, as did our memories of the long weeks of Lenten fasting, until Pentecost came along (quite suddenly, it seemed) and put the season of gold and lilies to rest at last, leaving us six months of Ordinary Time before Advent is upon us again.
Six dull or blissful or peaceable months, depending on how you approach them. It’s easy, of course, to view the long season called “Ordinary” as just that—empty and uneventful, more to be hurried through than to be savored. But Ordinary Time isn’t intermission, during which the creative among us regroup and collect craft supplies for the headline seasons of Christmas and Easter. It’s a time of deep soul work, of healing and stretching and the growth symbolized by the color green worn by clergy week after week.
For years, this stretch of Sundays we’re embarking on wasn’t called Ordinary Time; instead it was marked by Pentecost: 1st Sunday after Pentecost, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, etc. Each week, the faithful were reminded that these ordinary days, without endless weeks of feasting or fasting to push us forward, were the days of the Church, the days of hard work in the Spirit.
How remarkable it is to realize that the Sundays after Epiphany and the Sundays after Pentecost are now called ordinary, as though we faithful ought to be spending our ordinary lives living the mysteries of Epiphany and Pentecost. In the weeks after Christmas, we could proclaim his coming by our lives, just as in Lent we speak of his Passion and in Easter of his Resurrection. And now, as the Apostles are sent forth from the Upper Room to make disciples of all nations, we, too, hear that call.
It’s Ordinary Time, this first week after Pentecost, and we are called, as the Apostles were, to do the ordinary work of living in the Spirit, of letting the Spirit speak in and through us so that countless souls will come to know the Lord. We who have spent Easter (or our whole lives) in the Upper Room, afraid lest we be compelled to speak the name of Jesus and bear the consequences, must move.
In a world that considers the weak or poor or disabled to be disposable, in a world that hates those of a different race or creed or sexuality, in a world where despair reigns and fulfillment is spuriously promised by swipes and illicit substances, we must speak the name of Jesus.
Well, by making a plan. By learning how to give your testimony. But first and foremost, by laying your heart before the Spirit in prayer and asking him to lead you. By asking the Lord to show you the people he’s placed in your life to hear your witness to his love. By asking for the right words and the right silence and the right heart to speak love so powerfully that souls hear the name of Jesus, both when you say it out loud and when you proclaim him by your life.
Catholics aren’t exactly known for evangelizing. But we’re living in the age of the Holy Spirit—and, as of yesterday, in the season of the Holy Spirit, the ordinary months when we’re not performing remarkable acts of asceticism (except on Fridays, of course) or singing Alleluia with every song. For the next six months, we’ve got two options: veg out until Advent comes along to remind you that you ought to be growing, or invite the Holy Spirit to guide you and transform you, to send you out as he sent out Peter and the Apostles.
We’re used to Lenten resolutions and even Advent ones. What about an Ordinary Time resolution this year? What about setting aside five minutes a day or half an hour a week to ask the Holy Spirit to show you who he’s sending you to and how he wants you to witness? Ordinary Time doesn’t have to be a vacation from spiritual growth—the green vestments every Sunday show us just that. These uneventful months are the time when God is planting and weeding and watering and asking us to do the same. Let’s ask him to guide us as coworkers in his vineyard.