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

 

 Introit

 

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

Kyrie

 

Gloria

 

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. 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.”

Gradual

 

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

Alleluia

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

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

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."

Creed

 

Intercessions

 

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

 

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.

 

 

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