“As long as earth endures, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat , summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Gen. 8:22); God in his omniscient and horoscopic nature already knew that times and seasons will definitely be an integral factor in determining man’s timing on Earth. In his ageless schedule, he has fixed nature wheeling it around one factor, the greening of the leaves of the tree. After every cold dry winter, which is symbolized by the rustling of leaves, summer and spring is heralded by the greening of leaves, which symbolically marks a period of hope, the dawn of a new beginning, abundance and freshness. Broadening our horizon, man in his entirety cannot survive without his living counterpart – plants. As supernaturally configured as he may seem, his survival is naturally dependent on the green pigmented leaves. Ranging from oxygen to a breath of freshness, down to nutrition, man is dependent on plants. As knotted as this validation may seem, it is important at this juncture to state that our focus hinges on the concocted significance of the season of the Church, typified by the green colour – The “Ordinary Time”.
In a time when the love of many are waxing cold, scripture tells us that those who trust in the Lord shall be like a tree planted by the waters…their leafs shall be green ( Jer. 17:7-8) symbolizing abundance, spiritual resuscitation and revival. It can also be said to symbolize fertility and hope again for a hopeless world. Our Christian liturgical year embraces that understanding. To many, the word “ordinary” suggests a dull and boring period in the Church’s liturgical year. This is not true as its purpose is grander than its name. It is the time the Church delves deeper into scripture and the life of Jesus. We read his parables and explore how he changed the lives of everyone he interacted with in ways big and small. This is a time we explore what it means to live daily in faith, a time of growth and a time to explore daily sacredness.
Ordinary time – the Church’s understanding
I shall now discuss the Ordinary Time under the following schisms in no particular order: What does Ordinary Time mean? Why is Ordinary Time called Ordinary? When is Ordinary Time in the Liturgical Year? Ordinary Time is the part of the Liturgical calendar that falls outside the major seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. It simply marks the routine weeks not contained within the more eventful seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter. As such, it is not called “ordinary” based its level of importance, The term comes from the Latin tempus ordinarium or measured time. These are simply the numbered weeks of the year, ordered from 1 to 34. The season of Ordinary Time is a “split time” between the Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday, and the Weeks after Pentecost. They are the weeks that progress more or less continuously with the companionship of the Gospel of Matthew in Year A of the three – year cycles (Mark in Year B and Luke in Year C).
In the year of the Lord, 2021, the Ordinary Time of the Church’s liturgical calendar carries the title “Year B”. In it, we shall hear successive passages from Mark’s gospel. We shall go through the 10 chapters of the earliest of the Canonical gospels to be written ( the Gospel of Mark) namely chapters 1 ,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 and 16 before reaching Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 17. All of these readings capture Jesus’ earthly ministry manifested to the world, shortly after the unmistakable echo of the voice of the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit at Baptism at the river Jordan, giving the Son the unction to function (Cf. Mk 1:7-11). During his short time on Earth, Jesus went about doing good, preaching the Gospel , teaching in the synagogue, healing the sick, making the blind to see and the lame to walk, driving out demons and giving hope to the weary in faith (Cf. Mk 1:14, 21, 29; Matt 5:3-11) and the Church takes us through these readings during the Ordinary Time of the Church’s calendar.
With the choice of these readings, Christ himself calls us to live in the spirit of the joy He has brought to us at Christmas, to muster hope and live in an upwelling of optimism for the future even as we move to an undefined tomorrow knowing that with Immanuel -God himself walking and working in our midst, we need not fear and that our tomorrow shall be green. At the second part of the Ordinary Time of the year, having been empowered by the outpouring of the spirit just as it were at Pentecost, we shall be reminded of the great mandate “Go ye..”. With this great commission, the Holy Spirit moves us to do God’s work. He does for us and the Church what Jesus did for his disciples whom He left with his love, power and Spirit to share with the world. We shall hear Him speak in parables calling us to be seeds bearing good fruits. We shall also commemorate the giving of His flesh and blood to His disciples with the caveat “do this in memory of me”.
The final Sunday in the Ordinary Time is the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, traditionally called the feast of Christ the King. With it, Ordinary Time fades The “Ordinary Time”: Significance into the past while we take a quantum leap into the Advent Season. Saturdays within the Ordinary Time are devoted to Mary, Mother of the Church, who exemplifies the “Yes” of discipleship. This could be taken as optional, however it is encouraged. Saints’ feasts sprinkled through the weeks recall what Martyrs and Holy ones have made in their response to faith. We are called to imitate their faith. (Cf. Hebrews 13:7). The colour green marks the vestments and altar clothes to remind us of the growth in the Spirit expected of us. With this, the Church reminds us that the Christian Life is one of constant growth. She speaks to us through the greenish appearance of the clad of her priests and the Church’s décor, a colour of life and hope reminding us that God’s purpose for us is that we grow into full stature and become mature in Christ.
There are so many lessons we could pick from Jesus’ ministry while on Earth, as clearly spelt out in the readings of the Ordinary Time. A few of them are as follow:
1. Christmas season is gone, but Christ still dwells among us touching lives, working miracles and calling us all to share in the life of the Gospel. As we trudge down the hills of the new calendar year, the Church reminds us that in our journey of faith, we are never alone. Ours is to tap into God’s omnipresence asking him to lead us forth into the life of abundance – the very reason for which He has come (Cf. Jn 10:10).
2. Green is the symbolism of the time. We are called to be like a tree planted by the river side whose leaves are always green and even in the times of drought does not seize from producing fruits. We are called to bear fruits, fruits that will last even after Christmastide and Eastertide (Cf. Jn 15:16).
3. Our faith and courage in God should be built while the time is still available so that when the wind of life blows on us, we will not grow cold or withered for the Lord, for we will be ever green (Cf. Mk 11: 20-22). As the Christmas season whizzed away with the wind, and a new season dawns, the Church reminds us that while we await the next phase of our existence on earth, we should not forget to be ever green for the Lord, serving Him. The Ordinary Time is a time to be alive and active for God, always green as we await His second coming. Then shall our hearts be filled with joy and our heads bow in humble adoration with our mouths proclaiming “how great Thou art”.