Ordinary Time Is Anything but Ordinary
Pentecost ends the Easter Season and we return to Ordinary Time. I say “return” because the six and a half weeks between the feast of the Epiphany (January 3) and Ash Wednesday (February 17) marked the first section of Ordinary Time. The second section of Ordinary Time begins the day after Pentecost (May 24) and extends all the way to the first Sunday of Advent (November 28). Of all the liturgical seasons, Ordinary time is by far the longest taking in thirty-four weeks, almost six months, half a year!
All together there are six liturgical seasons in the year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, the Easter Triduum, Easter, and Ordinary Time. While Ordinary Time is the longest season, the Easter Triduum is the shortest lasting only three days, from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening to the evening of Easter Sunday.
The name “Ordinary Time” is a rather unfortunate title for this season because it is anything but ordinary. The name is derived from the Latin word, ordinalis, which means the numbers in a series. The word “ordinal” comes from this Latin word and means “counted time”. So, the title “Ordinary Time” simply means those Sundays that are counted after Epiphany up to Lent and the Sundays counted after Pentecost up until Advent.
Unlike the other liturgical seasons, Ordinary Time does not commemorate a specific event in the life of Jesus. Advent and Christmas celebrate the birth of Jesus and Lent, the Easter Triduum, and Easter celebrate the passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Ordinary Time focuses on the public ministry of Jesus, specifically his teachings and deeds, which include his parables and miracles. During this time, the Church calls us to reflect on the teachings and deeds of Jesus so that we might grow and mature in our Christian life. Since the focus of Ordinary Time is primarily on the members of the Church and their relationship to the Savior, some Christian denominations have appropriately named Ordinary Time the “Time of the Church” which gives a more dynamic name to what is actually taking place during this time of the liturgical year.
The liturgical color used during Ordinary Time is green. Green is the color associated with growing plants, especially the vibrant green of plants as they burst into new life in the spring. Green is meant to remind us of the new life we have received in baptism and the need to develop this new life so that we can grow and mature in our faith in Jesus. Green is also the color of hope. As we celebrate the events in Jesus’ life throughout the year, we wait in hope for the return of the Lord Jesus so that we can participate fully in the resurrected life that has been given to us in baptism.