Ordinary Time after Christmas

Fr Leonard E Dollentas 

When I was in secondary school and was serving in our parish as an altar server, I often considered Ordinary Time as the dull moment of Sundays after Christmas. Nothing special anymore in the church. The colorful church decorations had been taken down, the joyful and well-rehearsed voices of the choir were missing, and the old ladies had taken over the choir loft once again. The term ‘ordinary’ itself in English often means something that’s not special or distinctive. For me then, Ordinary Time referred to parts of the calendar of the Catholic Church that were unimportant. 

Yet Ordinary Time is far from unimportant or uninteresting. To understand and appreciate Ordinary Time we have to understand the Liturgical calendar of the Church. We may all recall that the Church calendar begins with Advent, followed immediately by the Christmas season. As regard the closing of the Christmas season, the Liturgy Handbook of the Roman Rite tells us: “In the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which ordinarily occurs on the Sunday after the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (6 January), begins Ordinary Time and closes the Season of Christmas. The weekdays that follow the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord are reckoned as belonging to the first week of Ordinary Time which continues until the Tuesday that immediately precedes Ash Wednesday.”

Thus, this first period of Ordinary Time runs until Ash Wednesday when the liturgical season of Lent begins, and the Easter season follows. Ordinary Time resumes again on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday, the end of the Easter season. This second period of Ordinary Time runs until the First Sunday of Advent when the liturgical year begins again.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. This is to represent the time of growth and expansion of the Church following the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Green is a very natural color and is often a symbol of growth and new life. 

Ordinary Time is an opportunity to begin again, to find greater meaning and fulfilment in our ordinary, daily work and life, and most of all to grow in our friendship with Christ.  Ordinary Time presents us with an opportunity to consider the fact that living as a Christian calls us to meet the Lord in the ordinariness of our own daily life. We are invited to live this ordinary life shaped by all that Jesus has done, and to live every moment of our lives in a way that is shaped by his Gospel.

As St Josemaria, the founder of Opus Dei reminds us: “For the daily life we live, apparently so ordinary, can be a path to sanctity: it is not necessary to abandon one’s place in the world in order to search for God…because all the paths of the earth can be the occasion for an encounter with Christ.”

Thus, for Catholics, Ordinary Time is the part of the year in which Christ, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives. There’s nothing ‘ordinary’ about that!