Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mt 9:9-13As Jesus passed on from there,he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.He said to him, “Follow me.”And he got up and followed him.While he was at table in his house,many tax collectors and sinners cameand sat with Jesus and his disciples.The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”He heard this and said,“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.Go and learn the meaning of the words,‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”


Well… The Holydays are over! … you might be wandering what I’m talking about. Christmas was 6 months ago, but if you have been attentive, for the last few months it seemed that almost every weekend we were celebrating a different feast. Since the end of Lent we had: Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christy and just last weekend, on we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation the Feast of the Sacred Heart!
Now, each one of these celebrations is important to us because they bring our attention to special aspects of God’s immeasurable love, however for the next few months every Sunday is what we call a Sunday of ordinary time. If there are no special celebrations during these Sundays, how are we supposed to experience God during this time? Well, during ordinary time we are called to experience God in the ordinary aspects of our lives.
Now I do not want to give the impression that ordinary time Sundays are less important than feast Sundays. Let me make this very clear: as Catholics we believe that every Sunday is a very important day, because Sundays is the day in which we gather as a family to celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to offer this in reparations for our sins, and that is a huge deal!
But I would like to propose that Ordinary Time Sundays are perhaps even more significant than a Sunday feast. Why? Because like Father Mike likes to point out “Ordinary time is for ordinary people”. It is a time for people like you and me, and if you think about in the ordinary times of our life’s is when we are more ourselves, and these are the times in which God can get closer to us.
Take Today’s Gospel for example. What can be more ordinary than today’s reading? Jesus goes to the place where Mathew the tax collector is working, the Roman Internal Revenue Service, and tells Mathew to follow Him. In response Mathew takes Jesus to his house, to have dinner with him and what seems to me are many of Mathew's friends: other tax collectors and your average run of the mill sinner. Now what can be more ordinary than this? No great healing or walking in water, just a chance encounter at the IRS office and then just “chilling” at Mathew’s home, with some of his bodies having something to eat. And yet, Jesus uses this simple scene to teach us a very important lesson. Jesus the Christ, the son of the Living God, second person of the Most Holy Trinity, did not come to call the righteous and the saints to Himself, he came for the sinners, for people like Mathew the tax collector, and all of his sinner friends, and he is willing to meet them where they are most themselves, in the middle of their ordinary lives.

Now…We come to church every Sunday looking to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. For some of us this is the one hour in our week in which we approach God. Within these walls we are in our best behavior, some of us even make a point to wear our “Sunday’s best”, because we recognize how important and special this time is. When we are here at least for an hour each week, we are all saints, right? So… What happens when we return to our ordinary lives? Do we leave Jesus behind? Do we say “Goodbye Lord See you next week?”
Every year ordinary time coincides with the summer, a time to relax, to be ourselves. A time to visit friends and families, go on vacation, or just stay home hanging out with friends. Is a time to take a break from school and work and just… You know…”chill”.
It is a perfect time for us to meet Jesus in the ordinary events of our lives. The sad reality is that some Catholics not only say ‘See you next week Lord, but “see you in a couple of weeks Lord” because it is too much trouble to find a Catholic Church near the beach or at the cabin or wherever it is we are going on vacation. Or even worst “See you in the fall because we are taking a break from Church this summer” My brothers and sisters let me make this very clear now, unless we have a good reason to miss Sunday mass, like a sick child or been in a place were there is not easy way to get to a Catholic Church, missing Sunday mass is a very serious sin, a mortal sin that can only be forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation
This is why Sunday’s should be a sacred day for all of us regardless of where we are, but Jesus does not want to meet with us just on Sundays, he wants to go with us to the places where we are ordinary, to our homes, to our jobs and even come along in our vacations! He is willing to meet us wherever we are, He wants to sit with us at lunch in the cafeteria, He wants to work with us in the garden, He wants to hang around the pool with us, go to the movies with us and take that long road trip along with our families. He wants to go to the places in which we are ordinary because these are the places in which we are who we really are, sinners, people in need of redemption.
Let me tell you a secret my brothers and sisters, when we are willing to invite Jesus to the places in which we are ourselves, ordinary times become extraordinary.
Let us ask our Lord to give us strength to fulfill our Sunday’s obligations wherever we go this summer and to bless those simple moments in our lives in which, if we let him, He will come to us not as a judge but as a friend and healer. Amen!