Ordinary Time and the Next Big Thing

Today is the First Monday in Ordinary Time. A beginning, but not one that we really celebrate.

Compared to the intensity of Advent—the color changes, the music, the familiar sermons about taking time for Advent—or the outright and overflowing joy of the Christmas season, the start of Ordinary Time seems so forgettable, such a sudden letdown. A sense of merely counting time until the next big thing.

Sometimes, this is what the whole of the Christian life can feel like when we lose sight of our individual mission to act as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Here’s how it happens: we have these amazing moments of revelation—the incarnation of Jesus Christ, his resurrection from the dead. We’re fired up, overflowing with God’s love and joy. We also have our own lived experiences—the game-changing points in our life, like the first time we remember really believing in Jesus as Messiah, or when we resolved to have a real relationship with Christ, to become his friend and follower.

But what about all of the time in between? What about most days of our lives? Out of our mundane, hurried, and routine lives, our most authentic prayer can sometimes be God, what next? 

Today’s Gospel reading (Mark 1:14-20) points to my error in growing impatient while passively waiting for God to do the next big thing. We hear the familiar story of Jesus calling Simon, Andrew, James, and John from their fishing boats to come follow him. Jesus says to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Think about that line—“I will make you fishers of men.”

Jesus is offering to make them into something they are not. To transform them. To enable them. But, it is each of these four disciples who will be doing the action, being the fishers of men. We see a critical balance. The next big thing is always through Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God—but is it not always Jesus acting on his own, alone.

We are not just counting time as Jesus’ followers, we have been transformed for action. Yet it’s still up to us, to actually act. Being transformed isn’t enough. We have to take the next step to action.

It’s all about balance. Liturgical seasons such as Christmas and Easter remind me that God’s action in the world completely overshadows my earthly sense of reality, of the possible. It’s not about what I do, it’s about my openness to God’s grace.

But there comes a time when I need to respond with action. To let the grace God has given transform me, and move me to action. Not waiting for the next big thing to come along and amaze me, but confidently responding to what I know God has already done. Stepping out, so that the next big thing in my life can be an example of God working through me.

This post originally appeared at NewEvangelizers.

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