One of the most misunderstood concepts regarding the Church’s liturgical year is Ordinary Time. We tend to think of certain seasons of the Church year as special: Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. These seasons are indeed special. However, Ordinary Time is not referring to a season in which nothing special is happening.
In fact, the Scripture readings teach us that there is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time. Aware of God’s presence and continuing love, the Church does not let a day go by without counting it as belonging to God. Because we count our Sundays in this way, we call them Ordinary, as in the word ordinal, meaning “numbered.” Because we encounter, day by day and Sunday after Sunday, the deeds of the Lord proclaimed in Scripture, we are reminded regularly that this moment and indeed every moment belongs to God. In fact, at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, which is the centerpiece of the Church year, the priest prays these words as he blesses the Easter candle: “Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega; all time belongs to him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power through every age for ever.”
For Catholics, time takes on a unique sense in the context of liturgy and worship. When we enter liturgy, the time that we mark with clocks and watches, kronos, is suspended. At that point, kairos—eternal time or “heaven’s time”—overshadows our time and invites us to enter God’s “eternal now.” This eternal now is experienced by the Church through the Church’s liturgical year. This means that, for Catholics, every day of the year has a connection to Jesus.
In this temporal cycle, we identify, first of all, the Sundays of the year, as in the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. As for weekdays, they are also identified in relation to the previous Sunday, for example, Tuesday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time.
Because time is something that belongs to God, we are called to be stewards of God’s time. In fact, stewardship is the recognition of our responsibility to care for and share what God has entrusted to us: time, talent, and treasure. Ordinary Time reminds us that all time belongs to God, and we are stewards of this wonderfully generous gift.
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