Ordinary Time – A time for epiphanies!
BY DEACON JAY W. VANHOOSIER, OFFICE OF FAITH FORMATION
January is the month in which the liturgical year moves from Christmas into Ordinary Time. Many of our brothers and sisters in other Christian traditions do not use the term “Ordinary Time.” Instead, they call it “The Time After Epiphany.” In many ways, I personally like the term that the other traditions use. In the beginning of January we first celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany. On the surface, this solemnity is the celebration of the Wise Men who came to view the Christ-child and bearing gifts. But on a more important and deeper level, it is the revelation that Christ came to all nations – not just to the Jewish people – as both human and divine. This is one of the most profound beliefs of Christianity: the Incarnation – God becoming a human who walked the earth and experienced humanity just as we do. Over the next months we will continue to celebrate the many epiphanies – the “ah ha’s” of Christ; the many ways that he showed forth both his humanity and his divinity. We will hear about what he came to do and – just as important – what we are called to do.
Following the Solemnity of the Epiphany is another epiphany. Christ is baptized, marking the beginning of his public ministry. And in fact, this feast day is celebrated as the Solemnity of the Epiphany by our Eastern Rite Catholic brothers and sisters as well as our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters. At the time, many people believed that John the Baptist was the Messiah. But John himself pointed to the Messiah. The voice of God is heard to say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” This voice from God is an inaugural statement and it affirms what Christ came to do: to be born, to live, to die and to rise – the Paschal Mystery. In our own waters of Baptism we died to our old self and entered into new life in the Paschal Mystery.
As baptized followers of Jesus Christ, how do we follow the many epiphanies that happen between Christmas to Pentecost and beyond – during the “ordinary time” of our lives? How are we to model John the Baptist and point the way to the Messiah? All of this can be overwhelming, to say the least. Heal the sick, help the poor, be humble of heart, the last shall go first, turn the other cheek, forgive, forgive, forgive … on and on and on. This is where we live. We live in the events that do not yet make us holy people, but we also live in the events that do make us holy people. How? It is because we live in the image of the resurrection, but our struggles are the many epiphanies of Christ. And we are to model what took place over his 33 years when he was physically among us.
We live in a time of already, but not yet. Our Christian life is about the epiphanies contained in the historical account of Christ and that is the “already.” It happened, and it continues to happen in our own epiphanies. But it is important to remember that our life is also about the “not yet.” It is about what is yet to come in Christ’s kingdom. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we live between these two moments—already and not yet. We need to strive to keep the many epiphanies of Christ’s life alive. We need to keep his baptism alive, and keep our own baptisms alive. We should live it in our memories, live it in our present, and live it as hope for what is to come.
Dcn. Jay W. VanHoosier is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Owensboro. For more information visit owensborodiocese.org/faith-formation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (270) 852-8324.
Originally printed in the January 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.