If Year A readings are used, notes may be found here.
It may seem strange, but this is a Christmas Feast. Not if we think of Christmas only in terms of the Baby in Bethlehem, but if we have followed the ideas of the Feasts of Holy Family and especially Epiphany, and have seen the Season in terms of the growing manifestation or appearing of the Son of God: first to the shepherds and then to the wise men from the East. Now in the River Jordan, Jesus, Son of Mary, is revealed to all as the fullness of all God’s promises: “This is my Son, the Beloved“. On this day we stand before the revelation of God’s love for us, such that he would send his only Son into the world. Christmas without the Baptism of the Lord, and the words that are spoken from heaven, would be incomplete, since it is only in them that we fully see the wonder of what happened in
Since we are talking about revelation, the first reading opens us to the knowledge of who the Son of God is, and what he will do. Again, as in the Gospel, it is the Lord God who speaks, pointing out to us the One whom he has anointed. The reading is quite sensibly divided into paragraphs, so use them to dictate your pauses when reading. There is a slightly different tone between the first three paragraphs, and the last two. The first are about the Lord’s servant; the last are addressed to the servant. Again you must note the poetry of the reading, and the pictures and images it calls up. Be careful, however, because the language is sometimes a little obscure, and will need to be read very carefully if people are going to hear and follow you. (An example is the phrase “he will neither waver...” which is not a familiar usage.) Towards the end your tone should grow warmer and more positive, as you read the Lord’s address to his servant, especially in the last three lines.
This is both a conclusion to Christmas and the beginning of Ordinary Time: as Peter speaks, he sums up the mystery of the Revealing of the Saviour to all nations which we have celebrated in recent weeks, but also looks forward, through the Baptism of Jesus and his Anointing with the Holy Spirit, to the work we will hear about in the next few weeks before Lent. In the first paragraph, echo Peter’s emphasis: “...but that anybody of any nationality...”. Similarly in the second paragraph, the phrase “Lord of all men...” is to be brought out. The words “You must have heard...” is a lovely, natural phrase; pause before it and give it its full effect. Also the words “because God was with him...”are particularly relevant to today’s feast. A simple summary can seem very easy to read, but be careful not to rush and lose the congregation as they follow you through Peter’s argument.
Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.