January 18, 2008

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Isaiah furnishes this weekend’s first reading from the Scriptures.
The reading dates from the time when God’s people were happy because the trials of their conquest by the mighty Babylonian Empire, and of being exiled to Babylon, were ending. Things were changing.

It all might have seemed that the Hebrews, who were kept in Babylon for generations, merely were the beneficiaries of luck.

To the contrary, this reading insists that the fact that their plight was improving was the result of God’s direct and merciful intervention into human affairs. God brings their relief. God had promised to protect and sustain the people, despite the misfortunes that might befall them. They were God’s people.

In turn, the Hebrews were human instruments on Earth of the divine will, bearing witness among the nations to God’s majesty and perfection.

its second reading, the Church this weekend selects a passage from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Today, the Apostle Paul ranks among the greatest Christian figures of all time, and certainly he stands as a most extraordinary figure in the development of Christianity in the crucial time of the first century A.D.

However, attaining this distinction was not without personal cost for Paul. He had to contend with converts to Christianity who were not always holy or loyal to the Gospel.

The very culture in which the Christians lived not only surrendered without a whimper to human instincts, but also elevated these instincts literally to the level of the divine. It rejoiced in lust, gluttony, drunkenness and so on.

Certainly, such was the case with the Christian converts in Corinth, which was then one of the major cities of the Mediterranean world. So the Apostle wrote this epistle—and at least one more epistle—to encourage and also challenge the Corinthian Christians.

Another burden for Paul was that his very credentials to preach the Gospel were questioned. He had to insist that Jesus had called him to be an Apostle.

The last reading is from St. John’s Gospel.

The author of the fourth Gospel possibly came from a group influenced by John the Baptist. Among John the Baptist’s qualities was his absolute intellectual and religious honesty. He was fearless. He thoroughly believed that God had called him to be a prophet.

So St. John’s Gospel presents John the Baptist in most admiring terms.

In this reading, John the Baptist sees Jesus in the distance and acknowledges Jesus as the Redeemer. The element of sacrifice is present. John identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God.”

Finally, treasured Old Testament symbols testify to the identity of Jesus. The dove descends from the sky, from heaven, to rest upon Jesus. God is in Jesus.


At Christmas, the Church excitedly told us that Jesus was born. The son of Mary, Jesus was human as are we. The shepherds adored Jesus, representing all humanity.

At the Epiphany, the magi found Jesus after searching for God. To assist them, God led them and protected them. In Jesus, they found God.

At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, celebrated last week, the Church introduced us to Jesus as the Savior of doomed humankind. In Jesus, humans would have access to eternal life.

Now, continuing the process, John the Baptist, so reliable and so insightful, proclaims Jesus as the Lamb of God. The Church continues a process, putting before us the very person of Jesus the Lord, and telling us about Jesus.

It is an invitation to follow Jesus. However, in extending this invitation, the Church gives us a complete picture of the Lord. Hearing the Scriptures of this season, we know Jesus. He is no stranger to us.†

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