This is the first “ordinary” Sunday that we have celebrated since before Lent this year (February 7, to be exact). Since then, we have celebrated the mercy of God, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, First Communions, Confirmation, the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the gift of the Eucharist.
Extraordinary things, to be sure; wonderful things; exciting things.
Now, it’s back to the ordinary green of our year, and as Kermit the Frog once observed, “It’s not easy being green.” Green seems to be a stigmatized color. We turn green when we’re sick; if someone is naïve we call them “green”; people don’t care about the leaves on trees until they start changing “pretty colors” in the Fall; and green means that our tomatoes aren’t ready yet. Where’s the excitement? How can we get fired up with our faith when everything is green and “ordinary”?
In our First Reading, the poor widow at Zerephath lost her son. He died, and she was utterly alone. In her complaint against God, we can understand her pain and loss. Elijah, the man of God, also experiences her pain and prays that God allow the boy to return to his mother. And he does! At this, the woman proclaims her faith in Elijah's word and places her trust in him.
Jesus, too, encounters a poor widow who has also lost her son. Our Lord does basically the same thing – “moved with pity for her” – and the young man is raised from the dead and returned to his mother. All see and come to believe.
This is certainly not ordinary stuff for ordinary times. Miracles, indeed. Miracles that produce faith and trust in God.
But is that what it takes for faith? Are our lives so ordinary with life and death, love and loss, that it takes extraordinary events to make us aware of the good things around us? Do we really need the “lightning bolt moment” to make us believe that God is present and that He loves us?
Ordinary time comes upon us at regular intervals in the liturgical year. In fact, most of the year is “ordinary” – like our lives. However, that does not mean that it is devoid of miracles. We only lose our sense of wonder. We get caught up in the extraordinary and miss what's right before us.
John Lennon once sang, "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans." He was singing a song to his young son, comforting him and letting him know how much he loved him. These widows in our readings today loved their sons very much, too. I am sure that they had big plans for them. However, as it often goes, it usually isn’t until we lose something or someone that we realize how special they truly are.
Ordinary time is not time to plan for later or to reflect on the past. Certainly, we can look forward hopefully and remember fondly. But we should not do so at the expense of the present. “God visits His people,” as the folks in the Gospel exclaim today; and He is here, now.
The love of God that raised the boy at Zerephath, the compassion that moved Jesus to raise the widow’s son at Nain, the love that gathers us all here today is all the same. It is the presence of God in our midst.
As we continue to look forward and outward as a Parish community, let’s not forget the miracles and blessings that are already among us! We have much to offer, because we have received so much from God! How can we share that with our community in new and better ways – in the ordinariness of our lives?
Take your cue from Kermit: “Green's the color of Spring. And green can be cool and friendly-like. And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree. When green is all there is to be, it could make you wonder why, but why wonder why? Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful! And I think it's what I want to be.”
Jesus reminds us that we are always beloved children of God, and He offers us His love and His life. And there is nothing “ordinary” about that.