2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
January 15, 2017
Our first reading today is part of what are known as four “Suffering Servant Oracles” in the Book of Isaiah. These oracles speak of the role of the servant of the Lord and, at times, how the servant will suffer.
The question can be who this servant is. The biblical scholars see different possibilities. Some say it is Isaiah himself. Others say it is the people of Israel as a whole, as evidenced in today’s passage that names Israel. For us as Christians, it is Jesus who is the ultimate fulfillment of these oracles. In his passion He suffers much for us as He is beaten, scourged, and crucified. He brings us light by showing that God is triumph even over death and will raise us up in the resurrection.
I personally believe that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Suffering Servant Oracles but that each of us as individuals and collectively as a church are to play a part in being the servant.
For instance, the servant is the one through whom the Lord reveals his glory. God’s glory can be known when we share with others the good things that God has done for us.
The servant is the one formed by the Lord in the womb. Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb by the power of the Most High. God is our creator and knows us even before we are conceived in our woman’s womb and God gives us a soul.
We can serve as servants by sharing the “light to the nations” of the salvation that Jesus brings “to the ends of the earth.” We need to point others to Jesus just as John the Baptist did when he pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
These words of John the Baptist should be very familiar to us. They are the origin of the words spoken by the priest at Communion “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world, blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”
John was pointing to the human Jesus passing by. The priest is pointing to Jesus presence in the bread and wine that have become the Body and Blood of Jesus.
God has called each of us to be his servants, each in our own way. To be his servants, we need to realize that “God is now my strength.” We receive this strength in the Eucharist.
I have no doubt that God will give us what we need as individuals and as a parish to accomplish what He asks of us. The challenge can be for us to figure out what God asks of us.
Part of the challenge is that we often think about it in terms of what we are supposed to do. Serving God is not just a matter of what we “do”. It is a matter of “being.”
Think of it this way. I stand before you as a priest. We could talk about the various duties I fulfill. Today I want to center on what it means to preside at Mass.
At Mass, I do most of the talking. Now, if you look at the two books we use at Mass, the Roman Missal and the Lectionary, you can find every single word that needs to be said for Mass except the homily and introduction.
That means I could basically stand up here and just read word for word from the books (you can find a homily in other non-official books). That would only reflect on what I do at Mass. However, the diocese didn’t send me to seven years of seminary and formation just to read words out of a book. It is important to use the correct words as found in the rite but I need to convey meaning and show that the words mean something to me. This can happen in the homily. It can also involve how I say the words and my body language. I hope the way I preside shows you that I truly do believe what I say and that I believe it is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus we receive.
This is what drew me to the priesthood. I enjoyed aspects of being an engineer. We need some people to be engineers to develop and build things. I simply discovered it wasn’t what God was calling me to be.
As much as I do more than just say words at Mass, I hope you do more than just physically hearing what is said. To open yourselves to all that the Mass offers you, you need to do more than listen. You need to actively participate in what is said by thinking about the meaning behind the words and actions you hear and see at Mass.
So, if you want to get the most out of Mass, in fact what I say is true for all the sacraments, it isn’t just a matter of showing up. We need to engage in the real meaning of what is going on.
In the responsorial psalm today, we sang “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.” May we open ourselves to what we hear today and the Holy Spirit so that we can do what the Lord asks of us.