Today we return to the Sundays of Ordinary Time, the time between the Christmas season that ended last Sunday and the beginning of Lent. Today we simply begin counting the Sundays, ordinary meaning ordinal, counting the weeks of the church year. We leave behind the joyful songs, hymns and carols that mark this very special time of year; songs that bring joy to our hearts, whether hymns like “Away in a Manger,” or “Silent Night.” The music arouses a sense of inner joy that carries us through the short days and long nights of winter illuminated by outdoor lights and decorations. It is a wondrous time of year. We leave behind the helpless, dependent Christ child and this very short season unlike Lent (40 days) and Easter (50 days) seasons and launch into the public ministry of Jesus, the adult who came to save us, redeem us and demonstrate his great love for us by dying on the cross. We need these annual liturgical cycles that are also connected to nature’s rhythms of birth, life and I believe these seasons of the year and our faith bring us hope.
Whether we made New Year’s resolutions or are simply willing to listen to the challenge of living our faith as we hear Paul’s letter to the Corinthians today, “to you have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy…” (1Cor.1: 2) What does it mean to be holy in our world today? We are not going to run off and become religious women or men, joining congregations and religious orders. We are not going to leave family and home, quit our jobs or simply become spectators in life. Holiness has never meant perfection because the only one who is perfect is Christ, who is the Lord of all life. What, I believe, Jesus expects us to do is to firmly place our trust in Him, believe in Him and take his words as benchmarks on how to live our lives in integrity, respect and truth.
When Jesus calls his disciples by name, he invites them to come and follow Him. Follow Him not your favorite priest, your son or daughter’s teacher, or a football or basketball player or even a political leader. Jesus calls us to follow him and put into practice the teachings of the Gospel: living out the Beatitudes and the Commandments. To do otherwise is to live a perilous life and miss the Joy of the Gospel. Let us listen to the Lord call our names, and in turn, follow Him. We and the world will be the richer for it.