Last weekend we concluded a significant portion of the church year. This weekend we return to the portion of the year called Ordinary Time. Perhaps the best way to understand Ordinary Time in the church calendar is to review the long stretch that we have just concluded, a stretch that has been far from ordinary. Ordinary Time in the church calendar is comprised of 34 weeks and it is interrupted by others seasons and special events. This year, like every year, Ordinary Time gave way to Ash Wednesday, Lent, the Triduum, Easter and the Easter Season, and the feasts of the Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ.
This year on Ash Wednesday, March 6, we began a truly special part of the year with the 40 day period of Lent, leading us into an invitation to Return through a Radical Journey of the Heart. That gave way to the most significant, important and holiest week that contained the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Vigil and Easter Sunday, which was followed by the seven weeks of the Easter Season. As always, that season ended with Pentecost.
During the Easter Season, we were all invited to Return to New Life. Then the past two weeks we have focused on two important feasts, the Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ. The past four months have basically been unique and marked by special church environment, rituals, the varying colors of purple, red and white. We now return to green, which helps us to see that this time of the church year, concluding on the first weekend of December when Advent begins, is a time of life. This Ordinary Time period of each year helps to tell the Jesus story through alternating gospels. In a three-year cycle we hear major portions of the synoptic (seen together, or similar) Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. Portions of the Gospel of John are proclaimed throughout each year. This year we are hearing the Gospel of Luke as we are in year C.
Look for some hallmarks and themes from the Gospel of Luke. It includes women more than the others. It is more inclusive than the others, hoping to reach gentiles, pagans and Jewish people as its audience. Luke is written to present a clear chronological procession and journey toward Jerusalem. Luke was a physician, so some of the original text is presented in a very educated and well written manner. Remember, as in all good literature, the audience that is being written to is a significant part of understanding its message. Luke, like all of the books of scripture, is the inspired word of God, written out of that inspiration of faith in God through Jesus Christ with emphasis on certain aspects of Jesus’ identity and urging people to believe in God. It is STORY at its very best.
We here at Holy Family emphasize the word of scripture proclaimed during Mass as a key aspect of realizing Christ’s REAL presence. We offer study of scripture and impact of the word of God, perhaps more than most Catholic churches. However, we never disconnect the proclamation of the word of scripture from the ritual of asking the Holy Spirit to change ordinary and simple bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Then, coming forward inspired by that word, we receive this sacred gift, taking it into ourselves literally and spiritually and then, hopefully, going forth being fed by it, nourished for the most significant mission of making the world a better place.
Last weekend we celebrated the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Remembering the importance of this feast is ideal as we now move to Ordinary Time. The feast helps us to remember that at least seven times throughout the Mass we say Amen. The church calls the Great Amen the one we say at the conclusion of the Eucharistic prayer. I say there are two great Amens: that one and the one we say when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
Permit me to share some thoughts about the word Amen. Some is the teaching of the church, some is mine. I can’t distinguish between the two though.
Amen means three things. First, ‘I believe.’When we proclaim it, we are primarily making a statement of faith. Second, it means ‘Yes.’Particularly with the two great Amens, it is a verbal high five of affirmation: Yes, that is the Body and Blood of Christ.Third, it means ‘Once again today, I am willing to be a part of the Body of Christ.’ In other words,‘I’m in this again today, and I am in THIS with others who share my belief and ‘We are in this TOGETHER.’Amen is not just a statement; it is a commitment!
As we return to Ordinary Time, let’s be aware of something we do regularly that is far from ordinary: the fullness of proclaiming Amen. It is one of the words that has not been translated into vernaculars or into each of the many languages around the world. When we say it, we are saying we are in this TOGETHER with the entire world, with people saying the same word, in response to the same Body and Blood of Christ, all over this great big beautiful world of ours.
Amen to that!!
Don’t forget, the 4:00pm Sunday afternoon Mass will be canceled throughout the month of July.