We’re entering the fifth Sunday of Easter and before you know it, we’ll be in “Ordinary Time.” This is the timespan outside of the Easter and Christmas seasons in which we live our lives neither feasting nor repenting but simply watching and hoping for the time God will do something extraordinary. Our readings this Sunday remind us that Christ suffered and died to save us from an eternity of ordinary time.
Ordinary in this sense is the curse of Adam and Eve. God did not create man to be ordinary, which is ordinarily defined as “with no special or distinctive features; uninteresting; commonplace.” Humanity started out as God’s masterpiece, but eventually not even that was good enough for the first man and woman. They wanted equality with God and with that, cursed humanity to be the opposite of God. Ordinary.
But the definition of ordinary that fits best with today’s readings is the noun. An ordinary in British law works under someone’s authority, “exercising authority by virtue of office and not by delegation.” That too is a manifestation of Adam’s curse. Humans exercise authority over each other—sometimes with great cruelty—but that authority was self-delegated, not delegated by God. And in today’s readings, we read about people longing to be freed from that tyranny of the ordinary and saved by the grace of God.
Our first reading from Acts (acts 6:1-7) recalls the days when the apostles selected people to help them spread the gospel. Among those selected was Stephen, described as “a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit.” But Stephen went up against the same ordinary powers of man that Jesus did—in the form of the Sanhedrin. These sons of Adam clung to their meager powers jealously, and would do anything to protect them from someone testifying that there was a power greater than theirs. The charges brought against Stephen were that he depreciated the importance of the temple and the Mosaic law—and elevated Jesus to a stature above Moses (Acts 6:13–14). Stephen’s mission was to free mankind from man’s law and reintroduce humanity to God’s grace through the gifts Jesus bequeathed: faith, hope and love.
In our second reading (1 pt 2:4-9), Peter reminds the faithful of their extraordinary mission, as assigned by Jesus:
“You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
That light is the source of all power, and Jesus charged all of his followers to separate themselves from the dim, dark powers of man and plug into the divine powers of faith, hope and love that are as inseparable as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In our gospel reading (jn 14:1-12), Jesus says he has no power except through that divine union:
“The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.”
The Holy Spirit is our connection to extraordinary power, and we must use it to spread faith, instill hope and inspire love wherever we go. By doing that, we can transcend ordinary time and enjoy the fruits of Christmas and Easter forever.