Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
January 15, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.




The Introit is from Psalm lxv, and calls upon the whole earth to worship the Lord and to sing praises to his name. (Schuster)






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. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6

The LORD said to me: You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm 40:2,4,7-8,8-9,10

R/ Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
 to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.



The Lord sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. Vs. Let them thank the Lord for his mercy, for his wondrous works on behalf of the sons of men!

The Gradual comes from Psalm cvi. God has sent his Word to heal the world, therefore a canticle of gratitude bursts forth from every heart.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
and Sosthenes our brother,
to the church of God that is in Corinth,
to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy,
with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel Acclamation Jn 1:14a,12a


Praise God, all his Angels; praise him, all his host.

In the alleluiatic verse from Psalm cxlviii—probably this was originally merely an acclamation following up on the reading of the Gospel—the angels and powers are invited to give praise to the Lord God.

Gospel: John 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Reflection Questions:

How has God formed you for servanthood?

Where do you think the Christ is most unrecognized today?

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

Catena Nova

One Lamb died for all to restore the whole flock on earth to God the Father; one died for all to make all subject to God; one died for all to gain all so that all might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them. Because our many sins had made us subject to death and corruption, the Father gave his Son as our redemption, one for all, since all were in him and he was greater than all. One died for all so that all of us might live in him. Death swallowed the Lamb who was sacrificed for all, and then disgorging him disgorged all of us in him and with him; for we were all in Christ who died and rose again for us.  Once sin had been destroyed how could death, which was caused by sin, fail to be wholly annihilated? With the root dead how could the branch survive? What power will death have over us now that sin has been blotted out? And so, rejoicing in the sacrifice of the Lamb let us cry out: Odeath, where is your victory? O grave, where is your sting? All wickedness shall hold its tongue, as the Psalmist sings somewhere. Henceforth it will be unable to denounce sinners for their weakness, for God is the one who acquits us. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for our sake, so we might escape the curse brought down on us by sin.  (St Cyril of Alexandria)

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 offense 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)

Were our souls watered with but one drop from the mighty river which flows from the throne of God and the Lamb, it would quench in us all thirst for anything in this world, and remove the aridity and hardness which make us so dry, tepid, and miserable. How grateful should we feel to our Savior for having redeemed us, and blotted out our sins and given us perfect joy instead of sorrow! Suffering, exile, the absence from those we love, the want of things we now think necessary, or other trials would no longer afflict us. So powerful is the fire of the Holy Spirit, that it mounts upwards, and gives us a love and trust in God that no water of sorrow or affliction can extinguish: it remains ever alight; it fills and inflames our hearts, burning away all evil, so that not even death can conquer him whose evil passions it has destroyed. (St. John of Avila)

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 continuous gaze at the heart of 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 lives. (Aiden Wilson Tozer)

The Baptist cannot hold back the urgent desire to bear witness to Jesus and declares: “I have seen and have borne witness” (v. 34). John saw something shocking, that is, the beloved Son of God in solidarity with sinners; and the Holy Spirit made him understand this unheard-of novelty, a true reversal. In fact, while in all religions it is man who offers and sacrifices something to God, in the event Jesus is God Who offers His Son for the salvation of humanity. John manifests his astonishment and his consent to this newness brought by Jesus, through a meaningful expression that we repeat each time in the Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29).  The testimony of John the Baptist invites us to start out again and again on our journey of faith: to start afresh from Jesus Christ, the Lamb full of mercy that the Father gave for us. Let us be surprised once again by God’s choice to be on our side, to show solidarity with us sinners, and to save the world from evil by taking it on fully.  (Pope Francis)



A Sight to Behold

     I am always struck during the Christmas season by the number of times the word “behold” (Gk. idoû) appeared in the various readings.  So I went online to see how many times the word appears in the New Testament.  I was surprised to learn 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, beginning in Advent, of Isaiah’s prophecy to "behold" a Virgin who shall be with child; when the angel Gabriel announced his conception to Mary her response was to "behold" the handmaid of the Lord; Joseph was told to "behold" three different times in his dreams; the heavenly host instructed shepherds to "behold" on the night of Jesus' birth as they sang glory to God; Magi from the east were overjoyed to "behold" the star's reappearance after their audience with King Herod; when his parents brought the Child to the Temple for his presentation, Simeon told his Mother to "behold" how the Child would be a sign of contradiction and, finally, at this baptism we are told to "behold" the heavens opening and the Spirit descending upon him in the form of a dove.  All of these accounts are found in Matthew and Luke who, as I said, favor this word.

     But John too makes use of the verb in a number of places, and in today’s gospel it carries 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, even making him unrecognizable, and we can only wonder, “Why?”  

     Perhaps Jesus was too nondescript.  After all, John and his contemporaries were expecting something rather more impressive in candidates for Messiah — whether a promising warrior-king, or a prophet like Moses, or a great high priest.  These were the expectations that lay behind the triple interrogation on the part of Priests, Levites and Pharisees who thought John might be one of those (cf. Jn. 1:19,24).  While the only credential 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 he should be called “the Lamb of God.”  Where did that come from?  And what is there to behold about that strange designation?

      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.  Another choice for the first reading might well 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 the Baptist to call Jesus the Lamb of God, his initial failure to recognize him tells us something about our own powers of perception, doesn’t it?  That it’s not always easy for us to behold what could 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 — or even failing to meet them because we are asking amiss.

     And that's never truer than when life presents 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 — whether about ourselves, or others, even God.  But the crucial thing is to "behold" when the Spirit descends, calling us to change, or when it’s just our own restlessness or boredom nagging us.  Knowing the difference isn’t easy. 

     In a recent series of 13 talks during his weekly audience Pope Francis spoke on the importance of discernment in the Christian life — in an Ignatian mode as befits a Jesuit!  In the 11th talk, Francis spoke of the signs that confirm the rightness of our decisions.  In summary, "the most important of these is the test of time. Decisions wisely discerned give rise to lasting peace. The spiritual life is 'circular': our decisions, as the fruit of our interior freedom and openness to God’s will, bring goodness, harmony and integration into our daily lives, our relationships and our work. A further sign of a spiritually sound decision is the conviction that it was in fact freely chosen out of love for God and in grateful response to his grace. The wisdom and rightness of our decisions is also confirmed by an increased sense of tranquillity, order and direction in our lives." (Cf. August 31-December 21, 2022;

     Another great Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is also helpful when we're trying to discern the "spirits."  Perhaps his words will help 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.

     But whatever you do, "Behold!" 

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we who are called to be holy may allow the grace of God to work in us and form us into the people of God.

For all disciples:  that we may be a light to the nations and an instrument of God’s saving message to all who are seeking deeper meaning and purpose for their life.

For all relief and aid workers: that God will renew their strength and energy as they serve those in need and that God will protect them from all harm.

For an end to racism and the dawn of a new cooperation amongst all peoples:  that God will help us recognize the dignity of each person and give us courage to reach past divisions build a greater society.

For all who are filled with worry or anxiety:  that God will ease their fear, help them to recognize the God is with them, and give them courage.

For all who have suffered from natural disasters or the deeds of others: that God will give them strength, renew their hope, and touch the hearts of many to assist them.

For peace: that the justice and peace of God’s reign may find a home in the hearts of all the human family.

For all who have died: that they may be gathered to the Lord and experience the fullness of light and salvation in Christ.

Merciful God,
you sent your Son, the spotless Lamb,
to take upon himself the sin of the world.
Make our lives holy,
that your Church may bear witness to your purpose
of reconciling all things in Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon


The Offertory fort today is a Jubilus drawn from Psalm lxv. The prophet invites the whole world to praise God, and would make known to all mankind the blessings which he has received from on high.

 Offertory Hymn


Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem. (Palestrina; Missa Hodie Christus Natus Est)

Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us (2x).

Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world. Grant us peace.

Communion Antiphon

Shout joyfully to God all the earth; shout with joy to God; sing a psalm in honor of his name; Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what the Lord has done for my soul. 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.

Closing Hymn (James Montgomery, 1821)


Hail to the Lord's Anointed,
Great David's greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captive free,
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.

He comes with succor speedy
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy
And bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing,
Their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying,
Were precious in His sight.

He shall come down like showers
Upon the fruitful earth,
And joy and hope, like flowers,
Spring in His path to birth.
Before Him on the mountains
Shall peace, the herald, go
And righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to valley flow.

Kings shall bow down before Him
And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all peoples sing;
To Him shall prayer unceasing
And daily vows ascend,
His kingdom still increasing,
A kingdom without end.

O'er every foe victorious,
He on His throne shall rest,
From age to age more glorious,
All blessing and all-blest.
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever, --
His changeless name of Love.