Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
January 19, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

 

 

Collect

Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

 

Proper Chants

Introit

 

V/. Let all the earth worship you and praise you, O God; may it sing in praise of your name, O Most High.  Ps. Cry out with joy to God, all the earth; * O sing to the glory of his name. O render him glorious praise. *Say to God, “How awesome your deeds!”

Offertory

 

V/. Sing joyfully to God all the earth; let the entire earth cry out with joy to God; sing a psalm in honour of his name. Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what the Lord has done for my soul, alleluia. Ps. Burnt offering I bring to your house; * to you I will pay my vows,  the vows which my lips have uttered, *which my mouth declared in my distress.

Communion

 

V/. We shall rejoice in your salvation; and in the name of the Lord our God shall we place our pride. Ps. May the Lord answer you in time of trial; *may the name of Jacob’s God protect you. May he send you help from the  holy place, *and give you support from Sion.

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6

The LORD said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength -- he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sos'thenes, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: John 1:29-34

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." And John bore witness, "I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."

Reflection Questions:

 1. How has God formed you for servanthood?

2. Where do you think the Christ is most unrecognized today?

3. How might you respond to the question, “Who are you then?” 

Catena Nova

Because it is hard to distinguish word from voice, even John himself was thought to be the Christ. The voice was thought to be the word. But the voice acknowledged what it was, anxious not to give offence to the word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him.” What does prepare the way mean, if not “pray well”? What does prepare the way mean, if not “be humble in your thoughts”? We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory. If he had said, “I am the Christ”, you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself. He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

The friend of the Bridegroom does not usurp his rights; nay, he abases himself still further in his humility, in order to proclaim the Messianic divinity of the Saviour and his existence from all eternity. As for himself, he says that he is merely an echo, a shadow, unworthy to render to Jesus even those menial services which slaves were then accustomed to perform for their masters. Such humility is truly in keeping with the greatness of the forerunner, of whom it was said, by the mouth of the divine Word himself, that none greater had arisen among the sons of men. (Bl. Ildefonso Schuster)

These words of the Forerunner about Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” express a knowledge of Christ so perfect, such an understanding of his redemptive deed on the cross, that one can say that these few words contain the whole Gospel. The Forerunner knew the mystery of the redemptive Passion, the mystery of the cross, and he proclaimed it. He proclaimed it with the words of that “Old Testament evangelist” [Isaiah], that prophet to whom it was given, out of the dark of the ages, to see and understand Golgotha. (Fr. Sergius Bulgakov).

Faith is not a once-done act, but a continous gaze if the heart at the Triune God. Believing, then, is directing the heart's attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to "behold the Lamb of God," and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our live. (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

Jesus came to radically undo this illusory scapegoat mechanism, which is found in every culture in some form. He became the scapegoat to reveal the universal lie of scapegoating. Note that John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin [singular] of the world” (John 1:29). It seems “the sin of the world” is ignorant killing, hatred, and fear. As Blaise Pascal so insightfully wrote, “People never do evil so completely and so cheerfully as when they do it with a religious conviction.” We see this in much of the United States in our own time, with churches on every corner. (Fr. Richard Rohr)

The Christian icon is not the Stars and Stripes but a cross-flag, and its emblem is not a donkey, and elephant, or an eagle, but a s laughtered lamb. (Shane Claiborne)

Just as Jesus received his disciples from the Father and holds them fast in communion with himself despite their weakness and infidelity, so his church will draw into one through baptism those whom Jesus commits to it, and will maintain them in communion through ongoing mutual forgiveness of sins. In that community, feeding on the Lamb who has taken away the sin of the world and freed from all need for sacred violence, whether physical or spiritual, they will live and offer to the world the peace that the world cannot give. (Sandra Schneiders)

Homily

 SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)

 Readings: Is. 49:3,5-6; 1 Cor. 1:1-3; Jn. 1: 29-34

A Sight to Behold

           For some reason I was struck during the Christmas season at the number of times the word “behold” (Gk. idoû) appeared in the various readings. So I went online to see just how many times the word appears in the New Testament.  I was surprised to learn that the verb or some form of it can be found in around 200 places and is favored especially by Matthew and Luke.  That’s why in recent weeks we were told three different times to behold angels appearing to Joseph in a dream; of Isaiah’s prophecy that the Virgin shall be with child and when the angel announced his conception to her and her response that she was the Lord’s handmaid; then angels appearing the night of his birth to shepherds announcing his birth and giving glory to God; of Magi from the east coming to Jerusalem to worship the Child; of his presentation in the Temple where we beheld Simeon and the prophecy he made to his Mother about her and the Child’s destiny, and finally of the heavens opening at his baptism and the Spirit descending upon him.   

            John too makes use of the verb in a number of places, but in today’s gospel it carries with it an element of surprise. For when John the Baptist says, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, he goes on to say in two different places, I did not know him (G).

            Something about Jesus startled him, and we can only ask, “Why?” Perhaps Jesus was too nondescript.  After all, John, like his contemporaries, was looking for a potential warrior-king, or a prophet like Moses, or a great high priest – the expectations that lay behind the triple interrogation on the part of the priests, Levites and Pharisees who thought John might be one of those (cf. Jn. 1:19,24).  And the only credentials Jesus could present was being the son of Joseph, from Nazareth (Jn. 1:45) which made one of his first disciples, upon hearing Peter and Andrews claim they had found the Messiah, wonder with equal surprise, Can anything good come from Nazareth? (Jn 1:46)

            So it took a divine revelation to convince John about Jesus, a message from the one who sent [him] to baptize with water [who] told [him], ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’ (G). Notice, however, there was nothing in that message to suggest this one should be called “the Lamb of God.”

            We can only speculate on why the Baptist would use this title and repeat it again the following day (cf. Jn. 1:36).  Perhaps John places the title in his mouth in light of what will happen much later in his gospel, when Jesus is crucified on the preparation day of the Jewish Passover at precisely the time the lambs for the paschal meal were being slaughtered (cf. Jn. 19:31).  The framers of the Lectionary suggest this when they pair today’s gospel with Isaiah’s prophecy of a Suffering Servant who, like a lamb led to slaughter, would redeem Israel – though a clearer choice for the first reading would have been the following:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
    Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people (Isa 53:7-8).

            But whatever led John to call Jesus the Lamb of God, his initial failure to recognize him tells us something about our powers of perception, doesn’t it?  That it’s not always easy to behold what might be standing right in front us asking for recognition.  Our preconceived notions of what “should be” can stand in the way of someone or something exceeding our expectations.  And that can never be truer in moments when life is presenting us with new challenges and new decisions.  For life sometimes takes us on courses we could never predict.  And in moments like those we’re asked to follow new visions the Spirit gives us, opening our eyes to see things we never saw before.  But the crucial thing is beholding when the Spirit descends, calling us to change, and when it’s just our own restlessness or boredom that’s nagging us.  Knowing the difference isn’t easy.

            I’m beholden to a colleague who this past week shared the following passage from the great Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. It spoke to me about the ways of the Spirit when we’re trying to recognize how and where life is unfolding. Perhaps his words will be helpful to you as well:

          "Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are, quite, naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of progress that it is made by passing through some stage of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

         Your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete."