2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Is 49:3, 5-6, Psalm Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10, 1 Cor 1:1-3, Gospel: Jn 1:29-34
St. John and St. Paul
In the readings today we hear from two powerful Saints, both were powerful preachers whose mission was to share God’s love with the world. Both died a martyrs death because of their fearless proclamation of the Gospel. These men are St. John the Baptist, and St. Paul the Apostle.
St. John had a mission from conception
We know a lot about the life and ministry of St. John the Baptist. We first heard of him in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, when his father Zechariah was serving the Lord in the temple and the Angel Gabriel came to him to tell him that he would have a son whose mission would be to prepare the world for the coming of Christ.
John knew that his Joy was in Christ
From the moment of his conception John knew that his joy was found in Christ. The Blessed Mother was pregnant with Christ when she came to visit John’s mother Elizabeth. St. Luke tells us that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and that John leapt for joy when he met the Messiah.
John called people to repentance so that they could learn about the Joy that Christ offers
John then reappears after the infancy narrative to invite the people of God to repent, to change their ways and to prepare for the coming of Christ. So it is fitting that as we are ushered into Ordinary Time St. John comes to us again in the Gospel to give his witness to Christ to us.
John knows that his mission is to prepare the people of God to encounter the joy of God’s love, but that in order to do so they need to be able to hear God’s love. Unfortunately their lives are drowning in the noise of sin. For this reason John’s mission is to call us to repentance, so that we can get rid of the noise of sin and hear the good news in our hearts.
How does John encounter God again?
John’s mission is to identify who Christ is. He knows that this will happen if he calls people to a baptism of repentance. John is faithful to his vocation. He begins the Gospel today watching for the Lord and when Jesus finally comes to him John recognizes him as the Messiah and identifies him to the world.
Re-Read Isaiah in light of the life of St. John the Baptist
Keeping in our minds this image of John the Baptist allows us to listen to the first reading to see how John lives out his vocation.
The LORD said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.
John lived his life as a servant of God. He did what he was asked to do. Do we live our lives as servants of God? Do we respond to God’s word?
Now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb,
John’s conception was heralded by the gift of mission from the Archangel Gabriel. His mission was known from the moment of his creation.
that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him;
John’s Mission was to help those who are far from God to come back to him. Who do we know whom God wants to bring back 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.
Through John’s response to God’s will not only were the Children of Israel saved, but all mankind!
Do we dare respond to God’s love in a similar way?
The second reading is from the beginning of the first letter to the Corinthians that was written by St. Paul the Apostle.
St. Paul was raised as a devout Jew and he loved his faith. After the resurrection of Jesus he began to persecute the Church and was present at the martyrdom of St. Steven. Later while on his way to Damascus to persecute the Church in Syria he encountered the risen Christ and his heart was changed. He was baptized and became an apostle and teacher of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
St. Paul’s mission was to explain to people how much God loved them. Perhaps it was his introduction to Christianity that gave him such a profound awareness of God’s mercy. God had mercy on St. Paul and helped him to change his life to serve God rather than to persecute his Church. Paul’s vision of God’s mercy and love permeates all of his writings and actions for the rest of his life. St. Paul suffered martyrdom by beheading about six years after writing this letter to the Corinthians.
St. Paul’s vocation was to be a messenger of God’s love
St. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians by identifying himself as an Apostle, a messenger of God’s love. He says that it is his mission from God to share the message of God’s love.
Re-read Isaiah in light of St. Paul’s life.
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;
Paul was gathered back to God on the road to Damascus. It was when he encountered Christ that his life made sense. Have I recognized God’s mercy in my life?
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength!
Paul says – I have fought the good fight, I have competed well…
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.
St. Paul is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. It was through him that Christ brought the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
St. Paul writes to us and calls us to a mission of holiness.
Paul addresses his letter to the Church in Corinth, and through them to us. Paul reminds us that we are the community that God has established. He reminds us that we have been saved from sin by Christ Jesus, and that we are called to be holy, to be set apart for God. Paul is teaching us that we too have a mission – that is to reflect the joy of God’s love to the world.
How do we respond to this call to holiness?
The readings today are not just an accounting of certain events from the early Church, but they are here to remind us of our vocation, of our mission. We too brothers and Sisters are called to a life of mission, a life that is dedicated to serving God. The Psalm today outlines the steps that we need to take to allow ourselves to live out the mission that Christ calls us to. There are four steps outlined in the psalm today
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.
Like John the Baptist all we need to do is what is set before us. We wait and God will act. If we make space in our lives for God he will come to us and make his presence known. This is a quiet waiting, not with words and problems, but with peace and listening. One of the best ways to do this is with prayer each morning. Set an alarm clock for 5 minutes in the morning and begin your day waiting for God.
Listening and Responding (with my heart)
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.”
The word Listen and the word Obey come from the same root word. To be obedient is to hear with my heart. This means that I need to set aside all of my own preconceptions and really listen to God. When I hear him, I respond. – “Here I am Lord, I come to do YOUR will”.
Discovering the value of a holy life
“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!”
When we have the courage to respond to God’s will we discover the depths of his love. We discover that living a life dedicated to God is filled with a joy greater than all of the distractions of the earth because when we can listen to God then we live our lives responding to the impulse of His love for His people.
Proclaiming the Joy of God’s love
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
We announce God’s love by our actions. We are glad that people know the reason why we are filled with Joy and God’s love. This is why we are led to works of charity to share the love that we have received with those who are in great need for it as well. This is not an overt-sharing “Here, let me help you with that, because clearly you have no hope” – but rather a willingness to walk with those who are suffering, a willingness to share God’s love with those who are oppressed just by being with them.
What is the Prophet Isaiah saying to you?
Let us listen to the prophet Isaiah to you one last time. This time I invite you to close your eyes and to listen, because this time God is addressing the words from the prophet Isaiah to you.
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.
How will you respond to God’s invitation?
Hear I am Lord – I come to do your will.