Christmas has now come to an end and we enter into “Ordinary Time”. Ordinary time. What feels ordinary today? I would like to submit that almost nothing feels ordinary to us, to the way of life we lived 2 years ago. We should rename this season of the Church “Extraordinary Time” (and yes, I know we can probably call the time we find ourselves in all sorts of names).
When I had Covid, a few months ago now, I did not hydrate properly. The fever took a lot out of me and I found myself to be extremely dehydrated. I remember I was on the phone with my mom when I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. And I did. I was on the floor for a couple of minutes and the Google search history that I had done for the last few days was flashing through my mind. Things like “mortality rates for people under 40 with covid” and “when to go to the hospital with covid.” Turns out, not very good things to Google when you have covid. I convinced myself that you’re feeling slightly better so get up and get moving, but the second I got up, I knew I was going to pass out again. So I did what any logical person would do - I called the school nurse and told her I needed help. In the meantime, I made it down the steps and outside but collapsed again. And that’s when I called 911. (Complete side-note - thank God for Maryanne Morris and our principal Matt Joram for running up to the rectory from the school to help me and to our next door neighbors who came running over to help, and to Fr. Mulranen who kindly gave me Last Rites. Also, Mrs. Morris beat Mr. Joram in the race to the rectory for the record). All eventually turned out fine. But the second time I felt myself collapsing, the thought did go through my mind - “This is it.” It was a frightening thought to be honest. I wish I could say that I was calm and ready to see my Lord - but in all honesty, it might have been the first time I was faced with my mortality.
I write this story because I believe that one of the uneasy things about the world in which we live is that we all are facing a virus where we have to face our mortality. The kids aren’t really thinking of this. They are inconvenienced by the pandemic and the way in which they interact with others and behavior may be altered, but they aren’t necessarily contemplating their own mortality. And that’s ok. But as adults, it’s important to face it, to think about it, and yes, to pray with it.
Jesus gives us a beautiful example of facing mortality throughout His life. Even as a child, when He gets lost in the Temple and Mary and Joseph have to come and find Him, He knows about what business He is about - “I must be about my Father’s business.” Mary and Joseph, terrified that the worst had happened to their son, were caught up in worldly anxieties. But not Jesus. It seems like there was never a time in Jesus’ life that He was anxious about the things of the world, doesn’t it? Sad, yes. Upset, yes. But anxious? I don’t think so. He knows His mission - it is a journey to the Father. And yes, that journey goes through the Cross but the end is the Father. He knows this. That is why in our Gospel today, the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus can be calm and relaxed when everyone is panicking that there is no wine at the wedding. It’s ok. Does a lack of wine at a wedding have a bearing on doing the Father’s business? But in order to ease the anxiety of those around Him, He performs His first miracle (and arguably most people’s favorite miracle).
Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” When we keep in our mind, heart, and soul, that we are on a journey to the Father, with our Lord Jesus by our side, and that we must go through the Cross in order to see Him, let us pray that our anxieties of the extraordinary time that we find ourselves in may wash away in the grace and peace of our Father’s love. When we do face our mortality, let us pray that we may have the grace to know to Whom we ultimately belong, and strive to make it the mission of our life to go to Him.
May the Lord give you His peace,