The month of July evokes many things. July reminds us that we are now more than halfway through the current calendar year of 2023. How quickly the months seem to fly by throughout the year!
Much to the disappointment of students, the beginning of July is also the mid-point of the summer recess from school. As such, July brings “Back to School Sales” and other events that turn our attention to the approach of the coming school year.
Another important dimension of July is that it turns our minds and hearts to an appreciation of and prayer for our beloved country, the United States of America, as we celebrate our Independence Day on July 4th. July and our Independence Day holiday give us the opportunity to pause and thank God for the many graces and blessings that we enjoy here in the United States.
We pray that God continues to bestow his grace, blessings and peace upon all in our county, and especially upon those who so valiantly serve in our armed forces.
After our recent journey through the seasons of Lent and Easter and the celebrations of the solemnities of Pentecost, the Most Holy Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we have returned now to the season of the liturgical year known as “ordinary time,” which lasts until the First Sunday of Advent. The liturgical color for the season of ordinary time is green, because green in heraldry indicates the virtue of hope.
The season is named ordinary time because it has to do with “ordinal,” “enumerated” or simply “counted” Sundays. Because of our common use of the term “ordinary,” the name of the season might seem to convey to us that nothing important is going on. This image of ordinary time as an unimportant season of the liturgical year is a terrible and unfortunate misunderstanding.
Instead, this time of the liturgical year challenges us to live every single day the faith realities that we have recalled and celebrated over the past few months, from Advent and Christmas to Lent and Easter. During ordinary time, our primary effort and focus is a continual reflection each Sunday on our ongoing, daily call to live the challenge of the Gospel. During ordinary time in this current liturgical year, we will be hearing largely from the Gospel of St. Matthew.
As we enter now into this liturgical season and as we strive in an “ordinary way” to live the message of Jesus every day, we can continue to reflect on our response to the call of the Lord that goes out to every one of us. In the routine of our ordinary, daily lives we are called to follow the Lord. Perhaps we do not recognize or appreciate enough how often Jesus calls us to follow him in the decisions that we make in the routine events of our lives.
For example, sometimes we too quickly exempt the ordinary events of our day from placing upon us a responsibility to extend kindness, mercy, forgiveness and love to one another. In the end, however, our efforts to share these virtues with one another, even in the ordinary events, truly pleases God and molds us more and more into those who are created and formed in his image and likeness.
Most of our encounters with the Lord are hidden among the ordinary events of our daily lives, and if we recognize what is occurring, these can be profound meetings with the Lord. These ordinary and far more numerous encounters between God and us can be missed if our tendency is to associate our interaction with God only with the more fantastic events that sometimes occur.
Jesus calls us as we fulfill our daily tasks, and hopefully we recognize this call and continue our lives in his company. During these days of ordinary time, may our faith be strengthened as we recognize and respond to Jesus as he comes to us in the routine events of life, and may we be willing to show God’s love to all those whom we encounter.
On a more personal note, hurricane season has begun again for my home state of Louisiana and for all my family and friends located there. If you have an extra prayer, please pray for them during these tense months of the year. I will also welcome vacation time during the month of July and look forward to the opportunity to make a trip back to Louisiana to spend time with family and friends.
I hope that July affords you some leisure time as well. In these days of ordinary time, let us pray for one another!