10th Sunday Ordinary Time

After 16 Sundays celebrating Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide and then the four great feast days of Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity and the Body and Blood of the Lord, last week we returned to Sundays in Ordinary Time. I like Ordinary Time. It’s the moment in the church’s year, coming as it does out of the northern hemisphere’s summer season, when we change gears and take life more gently. As the northern part of the world goes on summer holidays, the southern hemisphere, literally, cools its heels in winter. What I like best about Ordinary Time is that it values the everyday, predictable routine that makes up most of our lives. If we had no Ordinary Time we would not be able to celebrate extraordinary feasts; we would be at fever pitch all the time. This would be unsustainable and unhelpful. So we settle into weeks of celebrating the quiet processes of our lives. Every Sunday, however, we also celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection, even in Ordinary Time. I like this even more. We often think Christ’s Resurrection should be marked with great pomp or hallelujah choruses and yet on the Sundays in Ordinary Time we indicate that the Risen Christ can be found in moments we might think of as tedious, uneventful and humdrum. This Sunday we are told that Christ came to call sinners, not the virtuous. Sin has many definitions: a quite helpful one is that ’sin is the behaviour we do which is most destructive, leading us away from God, alienating us from others and disabling us from reaching our full potential.’ Seen in this light there is no such thing as a private sin without any consequences, because even if I am the only one who knows of my destructive behaviour then it changes me and alienates me from God and others. Every sin - personal, communal and social - has implications for us all. One destructive behavior that we don’t hear much about is the devaluing of the ordinary events of our lives. We can be so busy planning and looking for spectacular occasions we do not pay sufficient attention to the seemingly banal details of each day and to the relationships that form the foundations of our happiness. Turning the phrase, "the devil is in the detail" on its head, today’s Ordinary Time Gospel indicates that Christ is in the details, calling us to pay attention to the here and now. Today’s Gospel indicates that Jesus doesn’t want us to put on a show for him. He calls us as we are - sinners - and where we are - in the normal world in which we live. But his call offers a promise: we don’t have to be trapped in the destructive behaviour that can mark our lives. We can, if we really want to, start again and reconstruct a better life transformed by his love. May this Eucharist then be a quiet, gentle reminder that Christ’s new life can be celebrated in the everyday routine of our hectic existence, a reminder that every day provides us with a choice to be converted by his love and live our ordinary lives to the full. Richard Leonard, S.J.
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