A Reflection on the Readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
This last weekend we celebrated “The Epiphany of the Lord.” For us, it is a time of great joy and excitement that the Lord has been revealed by the Magi. Then this coming Sunday, we are tossed right into the prophecy and story of what will become of this small child that has been divinely delivered into the world. It seems to be a time warp, a kind of jump straight from the beginning all the way to the last chapters of the story. But the importance of this jump in the story is to make us aware that we are a part of it; we are the ones called to action, called to participate.
This Second Sunday of Ordinary Time presents readings to inspire us and call us to think about our own holiness and the need to declare that Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb, has come to die for our redemption.
In the first reading, we hear one of the four “Servant Songs” from Isaiah. These were written during the Babylonian exile and provided hope for people who had been ripped away from their homeland. It speaks to a strong, glorious, merciful God who has called forth His servant. This servant, which can be interpreted as either Israel or Isaiah himself, was called from the womb. This call before birth to be a servant of God’s will is also for us. It points out that we have a bond with God from the time of our conception and that we are to follow God’s will. God will give us strength to proclaim His restoration, locally and beyond, out to all nations and the world.
The psalm is a prayer of both thanksgiving and lament. Most importantly, it directly calls us into union with the Lord through obedience to His will, living out His righteous laws, and proclaiming His justice. Our response to His call should simply be, “Here I am, Lord.”
The second reading, a letter from Paul to the Corinthians, evokes the call to holiness. He addresses them as sanctified in Christ Jesus. Their identity is shaped and defined by Christ, who sanctifies them, making them holy. They are set apart by God and for God. This, too, is a message for us as we are sanctified in baptism and set apart by God, for God.
The Gospel recalls the public actions of John the Baptist, who identifies Jesus as the Lamb of God. The title Lamb of God is a reference to the first exodus, where an unblemished lamb was offered in sacrifice, and its blood was painted on the Israelites’ doorposts and lentils. The blood of the Lamb identified their homes, and the Lord “passed over” these residences while executing judgment on the Egyptians. In the new exodus, our exodus from sin, Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” He is the unblemished sacrifice that will mark us with His blood as those to be saved from sin and eternal damnation.
John the Baptist also recalls the baptism of Jesus and how he experienced the sight of the Spirit descending upon Jesus at His baptism. It is John and his witness of seeing the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus that brings us to another Epiphany of the Lord, for he proclaims, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God!”
In our journey from one Epiphany to another, we too are being asked to witness, to answer the will of God, to be holy and righteous, and to testify that Jesus is the Son of God.
Deacon Jeff Borski
Author: Deacon Jeff Borski, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Conroe, TX