OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

There is no break between Christmas and Ordinary Time – one flows almost seamlessly into the other through the Baptism of Jesus. We ended our Christmas Season thinking about the “revelation” of the Son of God – people realising who this “Jesus of Nazareth” actually was – and this continues today, as we interject a passage from Saint John before we begin our weekly reading through Saint Matthew’s Gospel. New Year is about beginnings, and as we return to the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry there is a sense of something exciting about to happen – even though we know the story, we dive into it once more, like returning to a favourite novel or film. So it is with joy that we stand in the country of the river Jordan, and recognise Jesus of Nazareth as the Chosen One of God, who offers himself to do God’s work.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 49:3.5-6
 
Even though the Psalm is meant to be sung, it is always worth the reader who is proclaiming the First Reading having a look at it: the Psalm (especially the response) will often clarify the context of the Reading, and this will help the reader find the right tone. Today is a perfect example: at first glance, the reading from Isaiah seems a little obscure, but when you see the response “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will” we can suddenly realise that this is all about Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry. He stands up as the servant of God, who will achieve the things Isaiah prophesies. Bear all this in mind as you prepare the reading: in a sense it is Jesus who speaks: “God… formed me in the womb to be his servant”. This is Our Lord’s own understanding of his mission! (For the congregation to understand this, it may be opportune for a brief introduction to this reading.) If you approach this reading from the point of view of Jesus of Nazareth speaking, it should be easy to find all its meaning.
 
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
 
This is a bit of an oddity! It’s a reading which, on the face of it, doesn’t actually say anything, but just forms the introduction to Paul’s first letter to the Christian community in Corinth. But when you look more closely, you see that it says a lot more than just “Dear Corinthians…” The descriptions Paul uses are revealing: first, he describes himself as “appointed by God” – emphasising his authority (this will be important later in this letter). Notice how he refers to the folk in the churches in Corinth: “the holy people of our Lord Jesus Christ…” – an interesting thought for our own congregations today. Then there’s a rather odd phrase: “for he is their Lord no less than ours”: Paul is emphasising that all Christians share the same faith, whichever community they belong to (perhaps an interesting reflection as we look towards the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity!) Don’t dismiss this little passage, but take it slowly and gently, and allow those telling phrases to come out. If you read this as an empty introduction, with no content, that is what people will hear: let Saint Paul’s careful choice of words say something!

From the Catechism

Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away sins of all
CCC 604-609

Mission of Son and Holy Spirit
CCC 689-690

CCC 606-607
The Son of God, who came down "from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him who sent [him]", said on coming into the world, "Lo, I have come to do your will, O God." "And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father's plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work." The sacrifice of Jesus "for the sins of the whole world" expresses his loving communion with the Father. "The Father loves me, because I lay down my life", said the Lord, "[for] I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father." The desire to embrace his Father's plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus' whole life, for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, "And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour." And again, "Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?" From the cross, just before "It is finished", he said, "I thirst."

Gospel Wordsearch