Picking up Sticks

Here we have moved from the Easter season into Ordinary Time. Sometimes that can almost seem disappointing.   With all the extra singing, poetic sequences, and beautiful decorations around our church, Easter and Christmas can seem so profoundly beautiful that it almost makes our hearts ache to see them go.   But Ordinary time doesn’t mean plain. Instead, it means ordered to or numbered. It’s a countdown, a reminder that life keeps moving toward the end of time and the coming of Christ.

It reminds us that there were all kinds of events that Christ experienced that we don’t have recorded in our scriptures. The everyday experiences aren’t any less divine but maybe even more miraculous when God came to be human. He came to experience all of the human condition, even the mundane, like picking up sticks. That’s where we find this widow in the first reading—simply picking up sticks to make dinner for her and her son. Her situation is dire; she’s almost out of food, and there is a famine and a drought.   But she still gets up. Even in her darkest of hours, she goes out and does the ordinary. She gathers scraps of wood to do what little she can with what little she has.

That’s what ordinary time reminds us. It reminds us to keep setting one foot in front of the other. We are supposed to be out in the world gathering sticks. We do what little we can with whatever God has entrusted to us. When depression or anxiety knocks on our doors.   When the economy makes it challenging to afford gas and food, we pick up sticks. We keep moving, keep walking through this time we have been given in our lives toward our own Easter.   Saint Teresa of Calcutta used to say that God put us here to do “ordinary things with extraordinary love.”

All it took for the widow of Zarephath was for her to follow one seemingly outrageous request with an act of faithful obedience: to share what little she had, even in this dark and fearful time when she didn’t have enough for her own family, with a stranger who God had put in her path.   She shared everything she had and God made it into more than she could ever have imagined.


A homily for Tuesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time: June 7th, 2022