By Deacon John Degano
The holidays were a great time to observe the rush-rush of humanity and the preparations that go into the celebration thereof.
As a columnist and blogger, I often focus on the weather or other seasonal events or activities taking place in the liturgical (Church) year. I think we all have a tendency to do this because God created us “in time” and, therefore, we are synced from birth to the rhythm of life.
It is why we celebrate birthdays, jobs, new beginnings, family reunions and even funeral wakes and receptions. We celebrate the changing seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter) and major holidays (both Christian and otherwise) including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As baptized Catholics, our list of celebrations continues, recognizing Holy Week (especially Easter), special feast days for our Blessed Mother Mary and patron saints, as well as blessings of various crops, throats (St. Blaise) and animals (St. Francis of Assisi), the reception of (seven) Sacraments and, especially, Holy Communion at daily (or at minimum, Sunday) Mass.
We also celebrate the liturgical seasons of the church year, including Advent, Lent and our current season, Ordinary Time, for another couple of weeks anyway.
Ordinary Time, celebrated in two parts, focuses on Jesus day to day life, walking from town to town, healing the sick and the disabled, blessing children and families and inviting those on the edges of life to full communion and restoring them to wholeness and community.
But only if they were serious about their conversion. He questioned the man lying beside the Pool of Five Porticos if he really wanted to be healed. He invited the rich young man to sell all, give to the poor and follow him. And he chastised the Pharisees and others for being hypocritical.
Jesus was a student of and an observer of humanity.
In Mark’s gospel (proclaimed on the thirty-second Sunday of Ordinary Time), Jesus takes a seat near the treasury and watches as people come and go, dropping money in the Temple’s collection box.
Then he comments to his disciples about a widow’s two copper coins being of more value than the greater sums given by all the others because she gave of her need while they all gave of their excess.
That’s keen observation. To see her in the midst of the crowd. To be able to see how many coins and of what denomination she proffers. And to have a sense of her status as a widow (perhaps from her clothing?) and place in society (clearly not one of the wealthy).
Her story and that of many others (the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman, the man with the withered arm) have been recorded in the Holy Scriptures so that we might learn from their story about the mercy of God that is available to those who seek the Lord.
We need to celebrate life like Jesus did. Someone so close to death (Jesus knew his time was short) tends to value life even more than those who feel indestructible and take life for granted.
Our sick, our dying and even our elderly have lessons to teach us, if we will only make the time to listen, observe and celebrate.
Let us promote life, all life, from conception to natural death.
And let us do so with abundant joy!
John Degano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.