Hope in the ordinary

By: OSV Newsweekly

I always think of the opening line to Snoopy’s first novel in the old “Peanuts” cartoon: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

On Dec. 26, at 12:01 a.m., the lights go out in Indiana. The Christmas trees are out in the gutter, the Nativity scenes are once again in the back of the garage. By Epiphany, the big day — like the kids’ toys — is barely a memory.

Northern Indiana is the land of the Great Dark. It begins right around All Saints Day. Hoosiers hunker down when the clouds settle in from Canada in the fall; they know it won’t be over until the first spring tornadoes come up from the Southwest. And if the sky is blue and brilliantly sunny in January or February, Hoosiers also know the temperature won’t get above zero.

That’s why they light things up right after Halloween. It is light therapy without a light box. But once it’s done, it’s done. The Great Dark doesn’t end until Easter at the earliest. Hoosiers will be in the middle of it until after the regular season begins in baseball. So it goes.

The Great Dark bumps into Ordinary Time in mid-January. Ordinary Time begins on the day after the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Sunday after the Epiphany on Jan. 6. There are exceptions to this dating, but the thing to keep in mind is this: You’ll never celebrate the First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Ever.

What I’m told by the liturgists is that since the Christmas season concludes with the Baptism of the Lord, Ordinary Time always begins on the Monday or Tuesday after the feast, never on a Sunday. The following Sunday is then counted as the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, this year Jan. 20.

As a kid, I always thought Ordinary Time between the end of the Christmas season and Ash Wednesday was its own Great Dark. Between the glory of the Nativity and the drama of Lent, the time seemed uneventful. Ordinary.

But there is nothing ordinary in “Ordinary Time.” It is the faith lived, loved and taught daily in the life of the Church. It is the story of the Good News.

It’s that way right from the start. The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is either John the Baptist’s acknowledgment of Christ as the Lamb of God, or Christ’s first miracle when he changes water into wine at the wedding at Cana. This year it is Cana (Jn 2:1-11).

Cana is one of my favorite “sit down and let me tell you a story” parts of Scripture. John tells us that Jesus, his disciples and Mary were invited to celebrate a marriage at Cana. We can picture them laughing and socializing. But during the wedding celebration, the wine runs short. Knowing the embarrassment this would cause the bride and groom, Mary goes to her Son.

“They have no wine,” she says to him. Jesus answers, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” But Jesus tells the waiters to fill six jars with water and take them to the steward of the feast. The steward proclaims that the best wine had been saved for last.

Jesus’ first miracle — changing water into wine so a young couple won’t be embarrassed —is so miraculously ordinary.

It’s good that we have Ordinary Time to help us through those days leading up to Lent. We can fill ourselves with stories like Cana and remember that there is no such thing as a believer without confident hope in the miraculous during the ordinary. Especially in a dark and stormy night.

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.


Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Opening the Word: Blessings and woes

Friday, February 15, 2019
By:  Timothy P. O'Malley In this column, I often have cautioned against our mishearing of familiar scriptural passages. When we hear the... Read More

Canon lawyers debate excommunication

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
By: Brian Fraga If it were up to many frustrated Catholics who follow the news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York already would be excommunicated.... Read More

Winter musings

Monday, February 11, 2019
BY: Robert P. Lockwood Four items plus one in search of a late-winter column: 1. Plasma therapy: Ambrosia Health offers “young plasma... Read More

Opening the Word: The least of these

Friday, February 8, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Jesus, the one who has come to fulfill the messianic prophecy of Isaiah, seeks out missionary companions. But instead of... Read More

Editorial: NY abortion bill is nothing to celebrate

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
By: OSV Editorial Board was a hideous image: the top of One World Trade Center — a structure literally built on the ashes of men, women and... Read More

A breath of fresh air

Monday, February 4, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo The last few weeks in the media have been like none I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve been in this industry for nearly... Read More

Opening the Word: Prophetic discipleship

Friday, February 1, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley OSV Newsweekly Jesus’ prophetic career seems to get off to a rocky start. Standing up in the synagogue in Nazareth,... Read More

‘We must keep marching for life every day’

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
By: OSV Staff OSV Newsweekly Hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters attended the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18,... Read More

Celibacy as choice

Monday, January 28, 2019
By:  Msgr. Owen F. Campion OSV Newsweekly This may surprise some people, even Catholics. When deacons looking ahead to the priesthood are... Read More

Opening the Word: Salvation is real

Friday, January 25, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley OSV Newsweekly If you’re a frequent user of Twitter, you are aware of the internecine squabbles that break out among... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!