Oh, for the power to change the ordinary into something extraordinary!
Let me back up a bit.
We are moving into what the church liturgical calendar calls “ordinary time”. However, that doesn’t mean ordinary as we understand ordinary. It actually means these Sundays are outside the major liturgical seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter. For us every Sunday is extraordinary.
However, I began to open a door and walk down a corridor asking whether it is possible for something ordinary or routine to become extraordinary or transformative?
How something ordinary can become extraordinary
As I thought about it I realized that for some time now I am in fact learning to change something everyday into something very extraordinary.
I am not referring to my belief that bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Rather, I have become aware of a shift in my ordinary awareness during celebrations of the eucharist. Instead of focusing on what is happening now, I begin with what it would have been like to have a seat at the table at the last supper. What would I have heard… and not heard? What would have been my reaction to any of what Jesus said if I were living 2,000 years ago.
When I imagine myself as a typical Jewish person of that time hearing those words for the first time, I realize how extraordinary his words would sound… and I then realize how extraordinary these words are meant to be for me.
Especially as a Jew I would have been horrified to hear Jesus talk about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. I would have struggled with “this is by body” and “drink my blood”.
For some time now I hear “Do this in memory of me” in a different way. Transporting myself back in time I begin to hear these words afresh.
When Jesus asks, “Do you understand what I have said and done… Wash one another’s feet as I have done!” I try to hear them for first time. The words that I have heard so often challenge me to think “whose feet should I wash today?”
Words with the power to transform me
When I imagine myself hearing Jesus say those words to me I now hear an extraordinary cal!. A call for transformation from someone who pays close attention to my own needs into someone who, following the example of Jesus, cares for my brothers and sisters no matter what the cost to me.
When I place myself in the sandals of someone hearing Jesus’ words for the first time, I am forced to recognize that just as they probably did not understand his words neither have I.
Even after spending three years with the best catechist in the world, the early followers of Christ did not really understand what Jesus was calling them to.
When I am able to enter into the experience of the first disciples, I wake up to the fact I am on an extraordinary journey transformation. On any given day I journey with people from Palm Sunday through Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I can be just as confused as the disciples on the road to Emmaus and in the upper room at Pentecost. Paul’s journey on the road to Damascus reveals to me how little I understand even today about what Jesus is calling me to
Jesus’ words as a challenge to be transformed
- Have you ever tried to put yourself in the shoes of the first disciples?
- What might you discover about yourself if you do?
- What challenges come from hearing Jesus with a “beginner’s mind”?