Today’s liturgy follows just a little over a week after Pentecost, the feast which formally ends the seven week focus on the Resurrection of Jesus and its meaning in our lives. During the Easter season we were invited to contemplate the wondrous events surrounding the paschal mystery, the event that is the saving action of God on our behalf.
Now we are in Ordinary time. The term itself has a way of throwing us off a bit. The word ordinary may even equate in our common parlance with unimportant, and I think that is a clear misunderstanding of the Liturgical season we call Ordinary time. Far from it; indeed, it is quite extraordinary when we reflect that the real work of the Holy Spirit is directly related to our everyday, ordinary lives.
Ordinary time is “our time” in the sense that it is our task to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit (sent to us at Pentecost). The Holy Spirit is the one who leads and guides us on our wonderfully ordinary (read extraordinary) journey into the very person of Christ. And there can be nothing more important than that for living out our lives as Christian people.
The task of the Holy Spirit is both to gather us as one into the Body of Christ and to inspire us to actually BE the Body of Christ in our world. The Spirit accomplishes that within us through our actions that carry on the work of salvation begun by Jesus in his lifetime and most especially in His death and resurrection.
That activity (of the Holy Spirit in us) happens not just on Pentecost day, but is the stuff out of which our everyday lives are lived. How do we know when we are living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? That occurs when we discover the following in our relationship with others: peace, justice, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control and joy.
Isn’t that a simply grand listing of qualities that bespeak the excellence in our relationship with others? Traditionally this list is called the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Wouldn’t it be even grander if we all lived our lives that close to the inspiring and en-spiriting Holy Spirit? It’s what Christian living is all about.
The quality of living that the list implies is the sign of the Spirit’s acting in and through us. Our task is to “let it happen;” and when we let it happen we are at one and the same time: being the Body of Christ; enhancing human interactions by living spirited lives; and, moving slowly and steadily towards the God who continuously loves us into life.
By Tom Shanahan