We’re officially back in Ordinary Time in the Church calendar. I know, that’s kind of hilarious – wouldn’t you just love being able to say, “Great! A break from all the highs and lows of life, the rat race, all my issues and frantic hopes. Now we get to take a breath and live in ordinary time.” I know I would.
Ordinary Time just means the holidays, feasts, and fasts are over for the moment. It means that in the great Story we play out every year, we are back in the middle of Jesus’s life, neither gestation nor passion. We get to hear stories about Jesus’s ordinary life, such as it was: healing people, breaking bread with them, wandering, praying.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my heart was kind of stuck in Lent this year, not readily able to wrap around such an enormous miracle as Resurrection. If you haven’t guessed, I can be too serious for my own good. Deserts and fasting I understand. But what does it mean to say not only that Jesus rose, but that he is presently risen? That the baby named “God with us” is still with us, to the end of time?
I’ve been reading a book called The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. I would really recommend it to anyone as an introduction to Christian spirituality, because a) he asks hard questions honestly, and b) he uses plain, simple language throughout. In one chapter he talks about what an incarnational faith might look like. That is to say, what does it mean to realize fully that the Incarnation of Jesus isn’t something that happened for a thirty-year period and then never again, but rather it never stopped. Incarnational faith means believing the world was changed when God lived in it, and now every living thing is infected with holiness. We can never go back to a life in which God is remote and distant or the world hostile and irredeemable. We’ve been living in the Kingdom ever since the King came to us.
Rolheiser’s simple words satisfied something deep in my heart. Philip Yancey writes in his book The Jesus I Never Knew that it’s harder for him to accept the Ascension in his heart than the Passion or the Resurrection; why would Jesus leave us? I guess the same question was weighing on me too. But he didn’t leave us. He promised he wouldn’t. He dwells now in all kinds of fragile flesh and ephemeral beauty, in all my loved ones, in the beauty and power of nature, in every living thing that stakes a claim on our heart. Just like Jesus to make himself so humble, so vulnerable. Just like him to reveal his glory slowly, gently, only to those who have eyes to see.