Happy New Year! Another Christmas season has come to a conclusion. We’re no longer hearing Christmas songs on the radio and in stores. We have completed our journeys to visit relatives and have sat down to share special meals with our relatives, we have put away our Nativity sets and other Christmas decor, recycling trees and Christmas cards and rearranging our homes back to normal. We have toasted the New Year and have welcomed the Three Kings, sharing a loaf of bread. And now, while beautiful lights still shine in many houses to brighten the dark days of winter, we find ourselves feeling just "ordinary" again." Yes, we have entered the "ordinary time" according to the Church’s liturgical calendar.
But in this Ordinary Time, the Sunday scriptures offer us a richness that is anything but ordinary. On Jan. 15, we heard the call of the first disciples in John’s Gospel. In the Sundays that following during this Ordinary Time, we are contemplating Mark’s scriptures of Cycle B for the year 2012. And what message do we hear in these readings and those from the Old Testament that accompany them?
Upon rereading the call to young Samuel (1 Samuel 3, 3-10.19), I was greatly moved. How could God have called someone who "did not even know the Lord? The readings tell us that "Samuel served in temple" — but he did not know the Lord!I paused to think: Am I like Samuel, serving the Church, but not really knowing the Lord? I realize that getting to know our God is a lifelong process. The Holy Church guides us in that process through homilies on the Sunday scriptures, if we take the time to read and reflect in the form of prayer. Through such meditation, God invites us to know and discover and respond to his call.
The other Old Testament readings relate to God’s encounters with Jon, with Moses and with Job. We see God’s loyalty to this people, in the midst of their sins, their doubts, their fears and their pain. God reveals himself to us as God With Us — a God who loves us and always walks with us and who calls us to serve one another.
The Gospels proclaim this same message, through the person of Jesus, the Word of God made Man, Emmanuel, God With Us. We see Jesus, calling Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. He calls them away from their work as fishermen to be "fishers of men". We see them preaching, teaching, healing, and removing evil spirits. He is with the people, and upon stepping away, takes time to pray alone to the Father.
Through all these readings, we are reminded once again of God’s call to faith, conversion and serving other. We are invited to follow Jesus and see His face in every person and His will in every situation. We commit ourselves to listen in the silence for the Holy Spirit’s voice guiding us in our work toward peace and justice. Finally, we must search for the love of God in our daily routines, the "ordinary", that manifests itself in the face of God, in the silence, in every moment of our lives.
Gardner is migrant ministry coordinator for the diocese’s northeast Monroe County region.