The season of Ordinary Time in the Church's liturgical year immediately begins again after the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost. The liturgical color returns to green and the regular cycle of scriptural readings resumes from where they left off before the beginning of the season of Lent. However, the Sundays following Pentecost every year are special celebrations within the life of the Church – the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. These are special feasts with their own liturgical readings and their liturgical color is white.
This year the ordinary cycle of Sunday celebrations will not occur until the first Sunday of July as the Solemnity of the Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul falls on Sunday, June 29. Because of the significance of this particular feast, it takes precedence over the regular Sunday celebration. While this solemnity is celebrated every year, it is only every so often that it falls on a Sunday. The solemnity has its own particular readings and its liturgical color is red. Thus, this year is no ordinary time since the regular Sunday celebration of Ordinary Time will not begin until July.
All of these celebrations are extremely important in the life of the Church and all of them are united in an intimate way. It is so fitting that they follow the celebration of Easter, which culminates with Pentecost, as they remind us of the life which the Lord has given to us in His Resurrection. These celebrations do not pertain to mysteries which are solely understood by theologians but they are part of the Christian life of all. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that they truly are part and parcel of ordinary time and ordinary lives.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity reminds us of God's life as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is a community of Persons for all eternity even if He had chosen not to create us. The Trinity is a communion of love which is the very essence of God. God pours Himself out for all eternity in love and thus when He created us, He created us in His image and likeness in order that we might have a real relationship with Him. He also created men and women to give themselves to each other in marriage in a unique bond of love which brings life into the world. Family life truly is a reflection of God's triune life.
God has created each of us to enter into a real relationship with Him. In this relationship he dwells within us as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus made this so clear in reminding us of what the fruits of the Holy Spirit would bring us. Our lives are not complete unless we enter into this relationship of love with God. This relationship is not meant simply for religious and those living in a monastery but for all men and women – for all ordinary people.
The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord is a vivid reminder of the Lord's dwelling within us. We celebrate the reality that Christ has given Himself to us as the food for our journey in life. However, this food is truly the Lord Himself under the appearance of bread and wine. At the Last Supper Jesus gave us the gift by which He would always be present to us in His Passion, Death and Resurrection in a way that transcends time and space. He also has given us Himself so that we may physically take Him into ourselves in order that He may truly dwell within us. The gift of the Eucharist is not a symbol or sign of Jesus Christ – it is the very Presence of Jesus Christ Himself. This gift remains with us even after Mass is celebrated as the consecrated hosts are kept in the tabernacle of the church so that we may always come into the real Presence of Christ. This is an extraordinary gift meant for all ordinary people.
The Solemnity of the Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, reminds us of that family through which we are able to enter into this deep relationship with God – the Church. As Jesus returned to His Father after the Resurrection and sent the Holy Spirit upon us, He promised to be with us in this family by which we would come to know Him and relate to Him. It is in the Church that God continues to teach us, touch us and be with us through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and through each other. Because of God’s very triune nature, a communion of love, we do not come to God simply on our own – we come to Him in a communion which is the Church. Saints Peter and Paul are the two foundational pillars of the Church. Christ entrusted the Church to St. Peter to be its shepherd and guardian in a unique manner. Christ entrusted to St. Paul the mission of spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles and to all the world. As we celebrate the feast of these great apostles, we are reminded of the nature of the Church and the foundation upon which it stands.
While Peter and Paul were given extraordinary roles within the life of the Church, they were in every respect ordinary men. It is precisely for this reason that they were chosen by the Lord for their mission. Both underwent conversions in coming to Christ and both were aware of their sins and limitations. What made them great was the realization that their limitations were overcome by the power of Christ. Both went to their deaths as martyrs and remind us in a living manner that no matter what our limitation and sins may be, it is the power of Christ who transforms us and leads us into a real relationship with God through His Church.
As we celebrate these significant feasts in the life of the Church, we realize that there truly is nothing in life that is ordinary. It may seem ordinary but it is all touched by the grace and love of God. Truly no time is ordinary and we celebrate that all during the year!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
June 20, 2014