The green, grassy slopes of the Galilean hills where Jesus taught the people from the towns and villages are reflected in the green of Ordinary Time, as seen in the church vestments during this season. During Ordinary Time we consider in fullness the mystery of Christ, and focus in particular on his three year mission to bring the Good News. For the people of the towns on villages, who flocked to the green slopes to sit and listen to Jesus, his words were like the refreshing hill breezes, breathing a new sense of hope into their lives.
For many of us, this time of year is also a time when we ‘head for the hills’ for a summer holiday, when we too look for refreshment, for something new and different from our daily work lives. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, we hope to be rested and re-energised. It is an opportunity to do something different, to visit those areas of our lives that we might have neglected; perhaps to go for long walks, to celebrate with others, to read a good book; and a time for some peace and quiet. It can be an opportunity for us to spend more time with Jesus, to consider his mission, and to renew our sense of mission as we continue the work of spreading the Good News.
If we are away, we might go to a different parish for Sunday Mass, which is a good opportunity, not so much to be a missionary, but to be someone who is a stranger. It can be quite daunting for a person who is not a Catholic to enter a church, perhaps for the first time. Let us put ourselves in their shoes when we visit our ‘holiday church’. What are our senses telling us? Are we anxious about the welcome we might receive? Will we know what’s going on? Even the best of parishes have their own ways of doing things. Do the surroundings inspire us, or do they make us uneasy? Is the music joyful? Are we accepted or ignored? We can capture those feelings that a stranger might have when they step into our home parish. It is a useful exercise, and one which we can repeat when we return to our own parish! What is the stranger sensing when they step into our church? Will they come again? What can we do to make our parish more welcoming?
Summer is indeed the best time for most of us to have a holiday that sets us up for the rest the year, refreshed and full of new expectations. And we as evangelisers are no different. We need to step out our usual routine, to pick up on new ideas, to spend time away from it all, to give time to growing ourselves as missionaries. Then, re-energised and filled with the Spirit of Pentecost, we like the Apostles before us, can then follow those footsteps of Jesus across the green hills of Galilee, to take the Good News to all. Ordinary Time is indeed mission time!
Deacon Adrian Cullen