Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. What about ordinary times? What about Ordinary Time? Now that Pentecost has passed, and the Easter Season has ended, the Church has settled back to Ordinary Time. But what is so ordinary about Ordinary Time? After all, in the wake of Memorial Day, many of us transition from the “ordinary time” of school and work to an “extraordinary time” where summer schedules and vacations start to kick in. If society has entered into the extraordinary time of summer with its extraordinary mode of living, what can be said about the life of the Church now that we have switched to Ordinary Time?
Entering into Ordinary Time anew at the beginning of summer is an occasion to remember just how extraordinary is the Christian life. But what, we might ask, lends the life of the Christian this extraordinary character?
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
The life of charity is the extraordinary mode of living that sets Christians apart. This doesn’t mean that the Christian is a walking miracle machine. The root of sanctity is not a charismatic grace such as reading souls, bilocation, or speaking in tongues. Rather, sanctity finds its roots in the lives of those of whom some would call “ordinary” saints for sanctity is nothing other than stability in charity. This is what sets the Christian apart. Through a true growth in charity, the Christian is made into something different. He becomes a sign of something beyond himself. Essentially, he becomes a sign of God, for it is God who has given him the grace of charity and fashioned him unto Himself. This is how an ordinary Christian can live in an extraordinary way, even in ordinary times.
The celebration of Pentecost reminds us that God has sent the Holy Spirit into the hearts of His people. When the Holy Spirit is sent into us, it’s not as if we’ve simply been clothed in an exterior fashion. Rather, charity is infused, or poured, into our souls and works deep in our lives to convert us from within, intrinsically transforming us into a likeness of the One who has given us the grace. Charity makes us likened to God so that we might not only be loved by God, but also that we might love like God. And what does this extraordinary way of love look like?
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).
The Holy Spirit was sent to change the way we live so that we might live like God lives—in sacrificial love. As a preparation for the Ordinary Time of the summer, God has sent His Love into the world so that we, ordinary as we are, might live in extraordinary ways. Through the Holy Spirit, we are made stable in charity that we might become “ordinary” saints.
Image: Green Park, London