There are times in our life when someone poses the question, “How was your day?” and we tend to answer, “Oh, it was just an ordinary day!” An ordinary day can mean different things to different people. An ordinary day for you may not exactly be an ordinary day for me if one does not qualify what that day was like. Some of you may remember the book series “A Day in the Life of” by the American photographer Rick Smolan. His idea was to create a series of books featuring images shot by 100 photographers in 24 hours across a particular country. Perusing through that series in a bookshop some years ago, it showed how diverse our lives are from region to region – an ordinary day can be just as exciting anywhere in the world..
Our Gospel this Sunday (Mark 1:29-39) can be said to describe one day in the life of Jesus. His day begins with curing Peter’s mother-in-law, then He goes on to cure many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another, and He also cast out many devils. Looks like Jesus had a full day because of what He did, everyone was looking for Him. Though at the end of the day Jesus chooses to go away to some quiet place, His ministry shows that Jesus was never “absent” in the ordinariness of the people’s lives. Mark will go to show Jesus being deeply engaged in the lives of the people who came to Him.
As Church, we are called to reflect the image of Christ and the foundational image of Christ is love. That’s why when questioned about the greatest commandant, Jesus presents the two-fold commandment of love – that is the model on which Jesus wanted His followers to build the kingdom of God. As disciples, our primary vocation is to love, love God, and love all those around us. This greatest commandment is not only what we are called to live but it is also going to define the face of a Church that is on mission.
In the creation narrative, we hear God saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) God created each one of us to reflect His image uniquely through your femininity, masculinity, talents, gifts, and personalities. In each of us we have the capacity and potentiality to reflect the image of God in the world. The image is not physical resemblance but the attributes of God that we know so well.
The living presence of God is felt not only in the sacraments that we celebrate or in ornate churches we see, but as St Paul would remind us, our ‘bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor 6:19) – the place where God resides. It is here that God must first be felt and from there be shared out to others. If the Church is the reflection of God’s presence in the world, it must be because of the people that fill our churches. For this reason, we need to be engaged with Jesus all the time just as He is engaged with us all the time.
A self-check would be to ask the question when people look at us, do they see the characteristics of Christ? Being conformed into Christ’s image is really the goal of the Christian life. All of us are creatures formed by habit and sometimes because of that, our spiritual life can become mediocre over time if we don’t keep challenging ourselves. This would mean that there will be times when we need to unlearn our old ways of thinking and doing and give way for Christ to manifest and express His characteristics through us.
I once read these words on a poster… “God doesn’t just want us to have a revelation of Christ, He wants us to be a reflection of Him.” Being a reflection of Christ is never going to be easy, given our sinful nature, but if we can just remind ourselves in the ordinary events of our lives, that we are God’s image, then in little and perhaps even insignificant ways, others may feel and see the reflection of Christ through us. The British writer William J Thoms is famously accredited to have said: “Be careful how you live; you will be the only Bible some people ever read.” There is great truth in this statement. The people who came looking for Jesus as we heard in the Gospel, were not only looking for healing and casting out demons, in Jesus they felt God had heard their prayers and they wanted more of Him.
The next time you have to think, say or do something, ask the question, will I be reflecting the image of Christ in any of these. In the words of St Paul let us all strive to be “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Your ordinary day may just be the opportunity to make it an extraordinary one for someone else. Have a blessed Sunday everyone.
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (7 February 2021)