This week, we returned to Ordinary Time, after the preparation of Lent and celebrating the Easter Season through Pentecost and Corpus Christi. We have entered almost five months of ordinary time as the Liturgical Calendar settles into the rhythms of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. One of the spiritual risks that I often face with the long Ordinary Season without the seasons of Lent and Easter for focus is that my prayer life falls into a deadening routine, where I go through the motions, but mentally and emotionally I am elsewhere; thinking about work, baseball schedule for the kids or the weekend get-away.
Today’s Gospel and First Reading speak of people the dead rising, first with Elijah and the son of the widow of Zarephath and in the Gospel, Jesus and the son of the widow of Nain. This dying and rising is symbolic of the risk of become spiritual zombies: going through the motions of prayer, but not really living the Gospel. Pope Francis has echoed these themes beautifully in the past few weeks. As the Irish Jesuits say, the readings:
“should help us to look at our own situation and see, first of all, how alive we really are. Fr Tony de Mello used to like saying that most of us are dead or asleep. We do not live in the real world of the now. We are nostalgically looking at the past or we are dreaming about a future that never comes. In the meantime, the real world just passes us by. Another popular Catholic writer, John Powell, sometimes reminds us that most of us only use a tiny fraction of our real potential. We are only partly alive. So he wrote a book called “Fully Human, Fully Alive”. We have probably all heard the saying of St Irenaeus often quoted: “The glory of God is a person fully alive.”