The Christmas decorations have been put away, the Christmas music has stopped, and the new year has begun. We see it happening in our church too. We have put away the nativity set, we are wearing green, we are back in Ordinary Time. It may seem that the joy and happiness of the holiday season is over and now we are living in the cold, dark, depressing days of winter, but that is far from the truth. Ordinary Time is not ordinary because it is not marked as a season of joy like Christmas and Easter, or a season of penance and anticipation like Advent and Lent. Ordinary Time is ordinary because it is most of the liturgical calendar. But it is also the time of the year where we grow in our relationship with God the most.
It seems easier to grow closer to God during other seasons because there is more direction. Christmas and Easter are very joyful times and things seem easier when we are happy. Advent and Lent are times of penance and many of us come back to the sacrament of confession and increase our spiritual practices to prepare for Christmas and Easter. But there is nothing special about ordinary time, there is not much anticipation or excitement, we are back in our normal daily routines. And while this seems like the hardest time to grow in the spiritual life, it is the best time to grow in the spiritual life.
It is during the mundane and regular parts of our life that we grow the most, not just spiritually but naturally too. When an athlete or musician practices, they get excited about the big games and concerts, but they grow the most as an athlete and musician during the daily struggle and rigor of practice. And for the spiritual life, that is during Ordinary Time.
In our first reading this Sunday from the book of Samuel, Samuel thinks he hears Eli calling him. Eli tells Samuel that the next time he hears the call he should say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And in our Gospel, the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus, “where are you staying?” and Jesus responds by saying, “Come, and you will see.” This is our disposition in Ordinary Time. This is our daily struggle and practice. When the Lord calls us, we willingly come to him and listen, and then we come with him. That is daily prayer, that is fidelity. It is to go to prayer when we are joyful in Christmas and Easter, it is easy to go to prayer when we are preparing in Advent and Lent, but it is difficult to go to prayer on the Tuesday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time.
These are our words, this is our disposition, to say to God daily, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” And to follow Him when he responds, “Come, and you will see.” Ordinary Time is the perfect time for us to grow closer to God, it is the perfect time to grow in fidelity. It is the time when we can truly call ourselves Christian.