January 14, 2011

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.

There is the overtone of relief and joy. There is the promise of a bright future. It was all because of the fact that, first, after the humiliation and anguish of being conquered by Babylon, and then after generations of exile there for many, God’s people were entering a new day of return to their homeland, and hopefully to lives of prosperity and security.

Lest anyone think this fortunate turn of events was the mere outcome of changing politics or luck, the prophet eloquently insists that the plight of the people is improving because 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, God’s people, human instruments on Earth of the divine will, had been faithful during their years of trial.

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

The Apostle Paul ranks among the greatest Christian figures of all time. He was 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 that were not always loyal to the Gospel.

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

Certainly, such was the case with the Christian converts in Corinth, then one of the major cities of the Mediterranean world.

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.

St. John admired John the Baptist and was likely a disciple of his at one time.

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.

St. John’s Gospel presents John the Baptist in most favorable 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 a human, as are we. The shepherds adored Jesus, and represented 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 River, which was celebrated during last weekend’s liturgies, 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 insightful, proclaims Jesus as the Lamb of God.

In all these settings, the Church carefully puts before us the person of Jesus the Lord, and tells us about Jesus.

It is an invitation to follow Jesus. Hearing these Scriptures of this season, we know Jesus. He is no stranger. However, truly knowing the Lord depends upon our willingness to respond to this invitation. †

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