For the next 6 months we’re living in what our liturgical calendar calls “Ordinary Time,” which follows the Feast of Pentecost. It’s the time of the Holy Spirit. We’re not orphans. As Jesus promised the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and lead us on our way. The lenten and easter seasons, recalling the death and resurrection of Jesus, are over. The seasons of Advent and Christmas are months away.
We’re living in the time of the church, when the Holy Spirit dwelling within forms us to be “children of God,” who cry out to God, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8,14-17) We’re a holy people, saints of God.
Saints? But aren’t saints perfect? Far from perfect, we’re rather like that field of weeds and wheat God’s word falls on, sometimes heard, sometimes not. Yet God sows grace in us, calling us to be holy as God is holy.
The universal call to holiness is one of the most important teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and it’s one of Pope Francis’ favorite topics which, in his letter on Christian holiness, “Gaudete et Exultate,” he explores in his homey concrete style.
Don’t miss “the saints next door,” he says. “These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.”
“I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it’s a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”. (7]
“Each in his or her own way,” we’re called to holiness, the Vatican Council says. Each of us has to discern God’s call, to find our own path, to discover the gifts God gives. We don’t have to follow someone else’s path or have someone else’s gifts. To be holy means to grow with the gifts we have from God.
Ordinary time begins today with a feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, mother of saints. Faithful hearer of the Spirit, she knows the meaning of daily patience. To use a term from Pope Francis, she’s Mary “next door.” She’s with us day by day. She’s at home with the day by day saints. She’s Mother of the Church.
O God, Father of mercies,
your Only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross,
chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother,
to be our Mother also.
Grant, we pray, that with her loving help
your Church may be more fruitful day by day
and by the holiness of her children,
draw to her embrace all the families of the earth..
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.