January 15, 2023 — Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 49:3, 5-6; PS 40:2, 4, 7-10;1 COR 1:1-3; JN 1:29-34
Today’s readings provide clear and inspiring reminders of the most fundamental aspect of our identity — that of servants of our most high and holy God, His modern-day disciples and stewards.
In the first reading, from Isaiah, we hear the voice of the “Suffering Servant” — prophetic words of Jesus Christ. “Now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb.” How beautiful! Even from the first moment of his conception in the womb of our Blessed Mother, Jesus’ saving mission had begun. This is true for each one of us. The Father has called each of us from the moment of our conception for a unique mission to further His kingdom on the earth. Each one of us can truly say the Father has “formed me as his servant from the womb.”
To be his servant is all that truly matters in this life, for ourselves and for our children. Career paths, athletic accomplishments, the school we attend or the city in which we live — all are secondary to the thing that matters most — that we have been called from the womb for the privilege of being God’s servants. Do our daily lives reflect this high calling? Do we use the gifts of our time, talents and treasure in service of God’s kingdom, and do we guide our children to do the same, for that is why God has entrusted these things to us?
Our second reading, from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, gives us another reminder of our true identity as God’s servants and the high calling we have as Christian stewards. St. Paul greets the Corinthians, and us as well, with this description: “To you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy…” We are called to nothing less than holiness. After all, only the holy can enter heaven.
John the Baptist recognized the holiness of Jesus and the response due to Him when he encountered Christ in person on the day they met at the Jordan River. His response, which we read in our Gospel passage from St. John was, “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.’”
What a powerful description of our Lord and the place He should rightfully have in each of our lives. He is truly our Savior, the only one who can free us from our sinfulness. We are utterly and completely dependent on His power, love and mercy. Therefore, He truly does “rank ahead” of us; he deserves to be first, above all other priorities and plans in our lives. Again, let us examine our daily lives, and encourage our children to do the same.
Does the way I spend my time reflect that God comes first? Do prayer and weekly Mass, regular confession and time with my family “rank ahead” of everything else on my calendar? Do I use my talents, skills and energy to serve my family, parish and community in thanksgiving and recognition that God’s kingdom ranks ahead of any other goals or ambitions? Do I spend my money and use my material possessions so as to glorify God?
Challenge questions, to be sure. But questions worthy of our high calling as Christian stewards offered a glorious mission in service of our Lord and His kingdom. What will our response be?