Ordinary time

It's nearly a week since my last blog post - a week in which our world, and so many certainties, were indelibly changed. We began our latest, too-late lockdown as the daily UK Covid19 death toll began to exceed one thousand. One thousand people gathered into a single statistic: none of them named, but each one known to God and their loved ones; each one loved and mourned, by their families and friends. And then, on Wednesday, we watched our screens in horrified disbelief, as a hyped-up mob rampaged through the US Capitol building; then reached out, in the solidarity of love and prayer, to our sisters and friends in the US. 

Nature seems unaware of such seismic events. By the weekend, here in London at least, the sky was cloudlessly, brilliantly blue, and our garden replete with the pointed blades of prospective daffodils and hyacinths stretching into the slanting sunshine. Nature does what it does, naturally and in its own time, and we find hope and meaning in whatever this may be. The liturgical cycle also marches on, giving extra layers of meaning to events and to our experiences, and being coloured in turn by whatever is happening in our world. Yesterday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus, and today we return to Ordinary Time (alas, only liturgically, world events still being anything but ordinary). 

As I read the readings for the Baptism, I was struck by the pared-down simplicity of Peter's words to Cornelius and his household. Describing the most amazing man he has ever met, whose life, death and resurrection had turned his own life completely upside-down, Peter eschews superlatives and hyperbole, and opts instead for plain words. Thus he sums up his public life saying God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. ~ Acts 10:38. 

Extraordinarily ordinary words, to describe Someone both extraordinary and ordinary! As Pope Francis tweeted this morning: It is striking that the Lord spent most of his time on Earth living an ordinary life, without standing out. It is a beautiful message that reveals the greatness of daily life, the importance in God's eyes of every gesture and moment of life, even the most simple.

He went about doing good... and healing... for God was with him... That was at the core of Jesus' life and mission, and must be at the core of ours too. Even though, thanks to lockdown, we can't 'go about' doing good, we can still do good; still find ways, every day, to live our mission to love, confident that God is - and always will be - with us. 

As we begin this most extraordinary 'ordinary time', what is the good we can do, the healing we are called to bring, and the love we can be and share, especially now, in these difficult and frightening times?