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Ordinary Time, the Church, and the impact of COVID-19

By Delia Chatoor

With the return of Ordinary Time in the Liturgical Calendar of the Church, we are provided with a very lengthy period during which most of the Sunday gospels are taken from the Gospel of St Matthew.

As the Church journeys with Jesus, there is the opportunity to know Him, to understand His messianic mission, to learn about His disciples and the responses to His teachings.

It is interesting to note that as many more restrictions were lifted by the State, the Church began this journey through ‘Ordinary Time’. The liturgical colour for the season is green which has been described as the “colour of hope and growth”.

The season also coincides with the advent of the rainy and hurricane seasons, both of which remind of the importance to plan for any eventuality as Jesus through His teachings sought to prepare the disciples for His passion, death and resurrection and what the Kingdom of God should mean to them and His followers.

Until the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, therefore, the Church urges “the faithful to have their minds….directed primarily toward the feasts of the Lord whereby the mysteries of salvation are celebrated in the course of the year”(108, Sacrosantum Concillium).

For the local Church, we would recall that for the greater part of the seasons of Lent and Easter, we the faithful were called upon “to stay in place”. The new normal was the observance of the liturgies virtually.

Now that there is some relaxing in the protocols, Ordinary Time provides the unique, wholesome and spiritual avenue through which we can collaborate “among different Parish communities and a reinforced communion among clergy and laity” on a much-needed evangelising mission.

One useful tool would be to delve deeper into sacred scripture and recall that on January 21, 2020 the Holy Father declared that the third Sunday of Ordinary Time should be devoted to the “celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”.

The historic impact of COVID-19 should spur the faithful to a greater commitment to the study of God’s Word and Pope Francis further noted that such an exercise could serve to help us “grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord”.

For the rest of the liturgical year, the Gospel of St Matthew takes us through the fulfilment of the covenant. Equally relevant would be the appreciation of the Sermon on the Mount (5:1–12) which offers guidance on what should be the traits of a disciple and over the past months, there has been the call for all of us to be missionaries for Christ.

In its review of the global pandemic, the Vatican’s Commission for COVID-19 observed that in 2019, the global military spending was US$1.9 trillion that being “300 times the WHO budget”.

There is, therefore, an urgent call for the message of Jesus, as witnessed through the lives of the disciples and the Church for us to be the keepers of our brothers and sisters so that we would not lose hope.

The words of Christ Jesus are to be lived as He said, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me” (10:40).

Our Heavenly Father knows and understands all the challenges which are being confronted and we have the assurance through Matthew’s account of Jesus’ ministry that He will take care of us (7:33-34).

We in turn must be cognisant of what is required to support each other so that hope would not be a mere word but would be a reality.

Delia Chatoor is a retired foreign service officer and a Lay Minister of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando parish.