Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

With the Christmas season now behind us, we enter into a period of Ordinary Time.  The white and gold vestments and décor are put away as Green now becomes the color of the season.  Throughout Advent and Christmas we’ve heard the prophecy of the Messiah, witnessed his birth, and come to recognize him as the chosen one.  Now as we enter this first period of Ordinary Time we start our journey with Jesus as he begins his ministry.

Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
John 1:29-34

Our first reading comes from the book of the prophet Isaiah.  This passage from second or Deutero-Isaiah comes to us from a time toward the end of the Babylonian Exile.  During this time we learn of God’s plan for Israel’s redemption by sending us his “servant.”  Someone dedicated to the Lord who will bring the survivors of Jacob and Israel back to the Lord, and make them a light for all the Nations.  And just how will they be that beacon of light?  By following God’s commands, as we hear in our Psalm singing, “Here I am, Lord;  I come to do your will.”

Why is it that we’re so enamored with Isaiah’s prophecies?  Because from our Christian perspective, we see Jesus as the Christ, the one sent by God to fulfill this prophecy.  As we read Isaiah’s words we can’t help but to picture Christ.  Reinforcing that idea is our Gospel from John.  Here we have John the Baptist giving testimony to the crowd gathered at the Jordon river, telling them how the Spirit has revealed to him that Jesus is the Son of God, who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit.

But what of our second reading?  Having entered Ordinary Time, our second reading won’t necessarily support the same theme as heard in the first reading and the Gospel.  Instead, for these next eight weeks (until the beginning of Lent), our second reading will be an extended study of Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians.  Our passage this week, quite fittingly, is from the beginning of that letter.  Here Paul introduces himself as a servant for Christ, and bestows his welcome and blessings on the Church in Corinth.  As is typical of Paul’s letters, he follows conventional Hellenistic form in his introduction.  Over these next several weeks we will dive deeper into the main points of this important letter.

Final Thoughts:
Living in Southern California as we do, we sometimes miss the sensations of moving through the four seasons… that journey from Fall to Winter to Spring to Summer and then back to Fall.  That same seasonal rhythm also moves through our Liturgical Seasons, with its high points and low points and transitions in between.  But just as we Californians have a hard time seeing these patterns in nature, we Catholics can sometimes miss seeing these patterns in our Liturgy.  With the Christmas season now behind us, we enter a stretch of Ordinary Time.  Over the years I’ve grown to have an appreciation of what Ordinary Time has to offer.  It’s a chance for us to slow down and take in what’s going on around us.  It is an opportunity to literally walk with Jesus as he goes from village to village, from town to town, spreading the Gospel message.

Our lives are not static.  Growth and change are built into us by design, moving through the various stages of our lives, learning and adapting along the way.  Life is a journey, and often times the joy of life is found in the journey.  So too with our faith lives.  Far too many people see their faith as something that is static, a constant that they can fall back on when needed.  But that’s an incomplete view.  Living our faith is also a journey.  While God may be constant, our relationship with him is dynamic, always changing with the flow of our journey of our lives.  Ordinary Time is our chance to re-engage with God in a way that is much different than the big seasons.  It’s a chance to follow Christ on his journey through his ministry, and like the Apostles, give us too a chance to learn and grow.

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