We’re starting Ordinary Time today. After the Christmas Season, these weeks before Lent may seem uneventful, even dull. But let’s take the “ordinary” out of Ordinary Time. These weeks until Ash Wednesday on February 17 are not some leftovers on the Church Year menu. Over half the Church Year is Ordinary Time, its name coming from “ordinal” or “counting.” There will be 33 weeks of Ordinary Time, and each week can be a gourmet’s delight. The Sunday gospel passages tell of Jesus’ call of the apostles, miracles, parables, relationships, and discourses. We see Jesus as a Teacher, Healer., and Reconciler. Stories abound for our imitation and inspiration. The seasons of Lent-Easter, Advent-Christmas are indeed extraordinary in their richness. But we can count on finding the Lord in extraordinary ways every day of the year.

The rite of Baptism has one phrase about original sin being taken away. Yet many people think the removal of original sin is the main purpose of baptism. Actually, there is much more richness in the ceremony. The ritual starts with the questions “What name do you give your child?” and “What do you ask for this child?” Both give the child his or her identity. There’s focus on the parents and godparents to raise the child according to the new life of God within the child. And there’s a whole lot of welcoming into the community of faith. This last element—the responsibility of the community–needs to be elevated in importance to see the purpose of baptism. The child is initiated into the community, becoming part of the People of God. Besides the parents, the whole parish community can say, “You are my beloved son/daughter, in whom we are well pleased.” And then it’s everyone’s duty to help the child grow into the Beloved.