The Doors of Repentance — The Gates of Paradise

The readings from the Roman Catholic lectionary for today are the following:

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Psalm 138:1-2a, 2b-3, 4-5, 7-8
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or 15:3-8, 11
Luke 5:1-11

These texts and the reflections attending them from a variety of sites I use on a regular basis nourish me in several ways this morning.

First, they remind me of the revelation-repentance-commissioning/revelation pattern of the Jesus Prayer. I am struck by the archetypical pattern displayed in both the calling of Isaiah and Simon (see also the calling of Saul of Tarsus?!)  not surprisingly, therefore, this is the order of the Divine Liturgy. The “order” speaks of the life-giving Lord. See below, #3,regarding the term “ordinary.” The reflection that confirmed and deepened that realization can be found here.

Second, the readings also speak, when read in a larger “order” offered in the gospel of Luke, of the gradual (orderly) call not sudden (isolated and individualist) call of Simon. A reflection that nurtures this revelation can be found here:

Third, I am always delightfully blessed by the term “ordinary” in its liturgical/sacramental usage. Scott P. Richert, offers these words:

Definition: Ordinary Time refers to all of those parts of the Catholic Church’s liturgical year that aren’t included in the major seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter). Ordinary Time is a feature of the current (post-Vatican II) liturgical calendar. In the traditional Catholic calendar (before 1970), the Sundays of Ordinary Time were referred to as the Sundays After Epiphany and the Sundays After Pentecost.

Ordinary Time is called “ordinary” simply because the weeks are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order. Thus, Ordinary Time is in fact the ordered life of the Church…

Spiralling to a revisiting of the first reflection to which I referred you, by Larry Gillick, S.J. we hear this about “ordinary”:

We move along ordinary, (the word means “ordered” or “orderly” not boring), days which have their unordinary moments. The liturgy of the Eucharist is an ordinary exercise of an extra-ordinary event. The grace of the Eucharist experienced in community, moves us out and back to the orderly living of this unusual vision of life which is Christianity.

We prepare for the celebration of this weekend’s liturgy by receiving the sacraments of each moment, each person, each invitation and interruption. God is never not-giving, not-offering, not preparing us for living what we receive. Grace orders or gives form to chaos and disorder.

The Divine Liturgy is essential and normative for many reasons. Among them is the fact that it offers us the vocabulary to refer to everyday life as “ordinary life.”  ordinary life is Eucharistic life.

So, the “order” of a thing or person is the pattern or larger progression or movement of which it is a part. I remember taking the math section of the standardized tests -SAT, ACT, etc. – and being asked to “name the next number in the following series.” (1, 3, 11, 43, ?) the idea was that each of the listed numbers was included because it spoke of a larger progression of which it was a part (4a-1=x). The numbers were included and received their meaning/identity because they were in harmony/union with a larger prototype or master definer. Numbers can be related to as isolation things or as part of a set. 3 is 3 because of 1, 2, and 4… 3 can never mean anything outside of that relational context… What is more, the 1,2, and 4 don’t mean much without 3. So also each of us and the events of our life. There is a mutual interdependence – a union – spoken of that transcends the individuality. The individual/isolational dies and the personal/relational is born.

God bless you today as you stand knocking at the doors of repentance in response to the voice within that offers the promise of new life — the Gates of Paradise (ongoing transformation) — in the Lenten/Pascha Pilgrimage (the journey of “joyful sorrow” – the “Lenten Spring”).

“Open unto me, O Giver of Life, the gates of repentance: for early in the morning my spirit seeks Thy holy temple, bearing a temple of the body all defiled. But in Thy compassion cleanse it by Thy loving-kindness and Thy mercy.”
(From: Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trs., The Lenten Triodion (London 1978), p. 101.)

Fr. Thomas

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