The Light of Christ in Ordinary Time

Jan 19, 2023 | Prayer, Spiritual Life

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing. Isaiah 9:1-3”

We will hear these words as part of the first reading this Sunday – the Third Sunday in Ordinary time. We also heard them at our Christmas Masses this year. This repetition of the passage reminds me that God’s light is not confined to a political crisis eight centuries before the birth of Jesus; or to a manger in Bethlehem; or to Jesus’ lifetime. This light is present with us at all times and in all places.

In this week’s readings, Jesus is now an adult beginning his public ministry and is calling his first disciples. He has been baptized by John the Baptist, been tempted in the desert, left his hometown of Nazareth and moved to Capernaum.

Perhaps Christ’s light is calling us on similar paths – a call to repent from John the Baptist; familiar temptations to care for oneself and not others, or a temptation to the use of power over and against others. Perhaps the light of Christ is calling us to follow Jesus more closely as he calls Peter, Andrew, James and John today.

On this Third Sunday of Ordinary time, we are about halfway between our celebration of the Christmas season and the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

As the light of Christ illuminates our ordinary lives – what does it show?  Has the joy of Christmas carried forward (if we experienced joy this Christmas) or have we returned to a land of doom? Or perhaps somewhere between a land of joy and a land of gloom?  Have we left the yoke that burdened us or the rod of our taskmasters broken and smashed in the Christmas season? Or, have we taken that yoke – that rod – back on as we have returned to ordinary time.

This brief reflection is not a call to action… Nor is intended to be a criticism of anyone’s life… It is simply an invitation to begin to notice: A reminder that we have carried the light of Christ with us out of the Christmas season and an invitation to take a gentle, compassionate look at our lives in the light of Christ.

One of my great spiritual teachers reminded me that we don’t use dynamite, pick axes, or shovels as we examine our lives – we use the archaeologist’s tools. A small brush to brush away a layer of dirt or dust, a small scaler to scrape away a layer. We notice patterns in our lives and the choices we make.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few other blogs in this space to introduce some programs or events that we will hold during Lent – hopefully some of these programs and events will fit with a space we have discovered in gently looking at our lives in Ordinary Time.

Fr. Brian Conley, SJ

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