By Fr. Mike, O.P.
One of the things I like the best about being a part of our shared Catholic tradition is the way we think of “time” and how, if we let it, it can affect the way we live and interact with those around us. Here is what I mean…
HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Although I am a week early.)
No, I’m not talking about the calendar year. January the first is nice and all, but our Catholic way of remembering Jesus’ life, the liturgical year that is, looks at time differently, and I am thankful it does. Have you noticed over the past few weeks how some of the most difficult and challenging parts of our faith have been visiting us in all of the readings at Mass? And, if you think about it, it really makes a lot of good sense.
We start our liturgical year, which begins next Sunday, with Advent and remember the how’s and reasons for Christ’s coming. Then we move into “ordinary time” for a few weeks. And no, “ordinary” does not mean simple or boring. It’s basically a simplification of the Latin word ordianlis, which means logically sequenced. In other words, we start with Jesus’ earliest and simplest teachings and move on to the really challenging stuff. Of course, we take a break from the ordinal for the most important seasons of our faith, Lent and Easter, and then pick up where we left off.
We are now at the end of ordinal liturgical time. We have been following Jesus’ life and what we have been seeing is Him teaching His followers, us that is, the most difficult and challenging things He wanted us to learn. Think back over the past six or seven weeks of the readings at Mass, and you’ll see what I mean. It is some very challenging and difficult stuff.
Thankfully we get the chance on this last Sunday of the old year to put things into perspective. I think it was what Jesus was aiming at from the start. Through all of the things He did and taught and endured for us, He was trying to get His followers — us as individuals that is — to understand the simple thing St. Dismas learned hanging next to Him on his cross. And that is: if we are honest with ourselves and about ourselves and admit we need His help and forgiveness, it will be there for us when we need it the most, and it is never too late for us to truly accept it!
As with all things of faith, “simple” does not always mean “easy.” It takes work. It is very difficult at times. But it is well worth it! And Jesus has given us lots of help for this journey. We have family, friends, our St. Thomas More community, and millions of others sisters and brothers in Christ to help and pray for us along the way!
One of the gifts God has given me personally along these lines (and I am sure all of my Dominican Brothers who have served here at the Newman Center will agree) is the opportunity to share my journey of life and faith with all of you here. The news that we Dominicans will not be ministering here in the coming years is truthfully difficult to process. However, today’s readings reminded me that it is important to remember all of the good lessons and things we have taught each other during our time together. I believe that more often than we think, God can get us to grow in faith and love even when things seem very difficult. Ask St. Dismas if you doubt this simple truth.
What will you pray for in Thanks Giving on Thursday? Will you remember to add the lesson Jesus so pointedly taught on the Cross and the one Church reminds of us this weekend? Namely, even when things may seem to be at their worst, great and very holy things can occur. I hope so!