Saturday, January 12, 2019



Tomorrow (Jan. 13, 2019), the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, marks the end of the liturgical season of Christmas-Epiphany. 

On Monday the liturgical color will be back to the green of "ordinary" time. We have to remember that the word "ordinary" here refers to the fact that the following weeks do not have names but numbers (e.g. "the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time"), so the weeks during most of the year occur in numerical order (the Latin ordinarius). The expression "ordinary time" certainly is not intended to contrast the "special" time of Christmas with the rest of the liturgical year that is just "ordinary" (meaning not special, a time during which we just move along by habit and rote).

In fact, the church goes to great pains in her liturgical celebrations during the Christmas-Epiphany season to point out how we are to live out the mysteries of the great feasts in our daily lives during the rest of the year. Here's an example from my prayer journal: On Thursday, Jan. 3 at 5:30 a.m. I wrote just two lines:
    "Behold the Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:36) 
    First day of the new semester, and there's my job: point out Jesus to my kids.

The scripture verse occurs when John the Baptist, baptizing in the Jordan, sees Jesus passing by, and
points him out to his followers. The next verse says "The two disciples [of John] heard what he said and followed Jesus." Now that the Word has become flesh and dwells among us, it is our job as believers to take on John's role and point out the presence of Jesus wherever and whenever we find him. The is no more "ordinary" time, because time is now infused with meaning, it becomes the constant, ongoing opportunity to encounter Christ in our lives. Every minute presents a new chance to encounter the Lord.

So, when I walk into my classroom for the first day of the semester, I'm called to introduce my students to the Lamb of God. The Lamb is not a figure of force and fear, or power and might. The Lamb that the Baptist pointed out was the very incarnation of humility, self-sacrifice, unbounded and gratuitous love. You can't merit Jesus' love, nor can Jesus ever stop loving you no matter what.

The best way I have of pointing out the Lamb of God is to model his behavior and his virtues: Kindness, understanding, patience, and so on. Phew! That's a tall order in a classroom full of teenage boys. Fortunately, though, I'm not depending on my own power and strength, and certainly not on my own virtue. No, the whole point of the incarnation is that Jesus, my brother, is present in me and in each of my students. He is the one that will make this work. I mostly have to show up and then give him the chance to show himself in and through me.

No comments:

Post a Comment