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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

The Word This Week

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 worthwhile for the reader who is proclaiming the First Reading to have 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!


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