What does it mean when we hear from the prophet Jeremiah, “the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion?” What kind of audacity are we being called to when we hear in the Gospel of Matthew, “all the hairs on your head are counted, so do not be afraid?” What kind of courage and action should come forth from us as we hear these words proclaimed again in the midst of our Eucharistic celebrations?
As we begin our celebration of Ordinary Time, we are in anything but ordinary times. We are still wondering how to recover from the onslaught of COVID-19. How do we ever recoup the shattered pieces of our society as we witness brutality, inhumanity, violence and indifference? How do we find meaningful employment for those without work? Where will we find the audacity to believe and hope that the dream of God that we all be one is still alive and worthy of service?
Our ordinary time has changed. We are out of our ordinary habits and forced to think about others and not just ourselves. Gone are the days when we can pursue only what we want without regard to its effects on others. We are more separated from others than most of us are used to. If being truly honest, most of us would say we are tired of all these regulations and concerns. We want our ordinary time back!
Our Scripture imperative, as we enter into Ordinary Time once again, is to take on the mantle of compassion. The courage and action that we are called to will take a certain new strength. It calls us above and beyond the easy and the habitual into some new dimensions of awareness.
To have God as our “mighty champion” calls for more than just getting our way or using our Christian power to get what we want. It is the courage to wash the disciple’s feet that Jesus modeled for us. What a belittling gesture for the master to wash the feet of His disciples. His courage came from His Oneness with the Father and His dedication to faithfulness. He was one who was not afraid to be outrageous with His love.
The strength and courage talked about in the Scriptures this weekend is meant to make us braver than we normally would be. But not brave to risk senselessly for insignificant things that don’t last, like money or power or prestige or influence. We are meant to risk for the greater good. Those things that last forever are worth our acts of courage. What might that look like in your family, your neighborhood, your church, in your friendships?
Be bold in where you pick to exercise this power given to us by being accompanied by God. Risk listening more than talking. Risk being generous beyond what you think you are capable of. Risk crossing your established boundaries of comfort and security. Risk forgiving 70 times 7. Risk loving again, even when you don’t know the outcome. Risk examining those attitudes that you have held all your life about “those people.”
Might this be the ordinary time that isn’t so ordinary? Might it be a new awakening of our minds and hearts to the grace and beauty of oneness that takes courage and power that looks humble? Might our ordinary lives be so attractive to others that they would say about us, “look how they love one another?”