19Jan 19 January, 2020. 2nd Sunday (Year A)

Prayer (ICEL 1998)

Merciful God,
you sent your Son, the spotless Lamb,
to take upon himself the sin of the world.
Make our lives holy,
that your Church may bear witness to your purpose
of reconciling all things in Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

1st Reading: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6

God is preparing his people Israel to become a light for all nations

The Lord said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength; he says,

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Responsorial: Psalm 39:2, 4, 7-10

Response: Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God. (R./)

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I. (R./)

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart. (R./)

Your justice I have proclaimed
in the great assembly.
My lips I have not sealed;
you know it, O Lord. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul greets his converts in Corinth, who are called to be saints

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sos’thenes, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: John 1:29-34

John the Baptist announces the One who will baptise us with the Holy Spirit

John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” John also testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”


May your words, O Lord, be on my lips and in my heart. May they guide my life and keep me near to you.

Taking stock of ourselves

Two thoughts emerge from today’s readings. The first is John’s dramatic declaration, Behold the Lamb of God. the second is an invitation to do a personal stock-taking during this first month of the new year, and make some resolutions to improve the quality of our lives. The Baptist urges us to ask what are we fundamentally about and then seek to reset our lives. And St Paul reminds us that we are “called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

An honest stock-taking of ourselves may unveil the selfish motives that often direct our actions. To rise above an ego-centric spirit we need to recognise something outside of and larger than ourselves, the God who cares for us and for the whole human community. Can we listen to John’s call to restore what is broken, and Jesus’ call, to bring light to the world? Do we see that it is with our cooperation that the Lamb can remove the “sin of the world?”

Facing our deepest personal truths is always difficult; it calls us to not just drift along with this world’s evil, always taking the line of least resistance. Discipleship is urgent and costly, but it is also possible and is the way towards the deeper joy and fulfilment that our soul is longing for. If we properly hear the Baptist as he witnesses to Christ, our response will be a stock-taking that goes to the root of our being. It may even reveal to us the truth that sets us free.

4 Responses

  1. Pádraig McCarthy

    Look! There he is!!!
    None of the translations I’ve seen seem to communicate the energy, the surprise of in what the Baptist says.
    Would you just look at that! Imagine! Can you believe it?
    That’s the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
    Have you any idea how extraordinary that is?
    In John 19, Jesus is condemned to death at the very hour when the lambs for the Passover were being sacrificed in the Temple.

    The lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Sin – singular, nor plural. We tend to think of our individual sins committed, but here we’re talking of something much bigger. There’s the SIN which oppresses the world, to which entire populations are subjected. That’s the SIN from which the lamb liberates the peoples of the world. Just as sin is an ongoing reality, the liberation is an ongoing reality. As Paul wrote (Ephesians 1:3,4): “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ; he chose us in Christ to be holy and faultless before him in love.”
    On a personal level we can know forgiveness each and every moment of every day, however much sin we fall into. And since Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the SIN which, to human eyes, dominates the world, then, no matter how hopeless, no matter the depth of evil, that SIN has no power over us.
    In the Irish Times today, 18 January, Wendy May Jacobs has a good reflection on this mystery:

  2. Pádraig McCarthy

    The Baptist here speaks of the Spirit descending on Jesus and remaining on him. Again a link with John 19: As Jesus dies, he sends forth the Spirit. Then, in John 20, at his first encounter following the resurrection with the fearful disciples in congregation in the upper room, Jesus brings peace, and he breathes the Spirit on the disciples, sending them to be agents of freeing the world from the power of sin.

    Thomas O’Loughlin has a reflection on this in his “Liturgical Resources for the Year of Matthew”, on page 30, in comment on the reading from the beginning of 1 Corinthians. You can read it at https://www.catholicireland.net/liturgical-resources-for-the-year-of-matthew-sundays-in-ordinary-time-in-year-a/. Scroll down the web page to his commentary on the second reading: where we think of sin as contagious, Paul sees holiness as contagious!

  3. Seamus Ahearne

    There was a sick call. We stood around the bed. I asked the family to talk about their mum. They did it beautifully. I said – that this is the real Anointing. The story of her life. How she allowed the ‘glory of God’ shone through her. How she accepted the ‘appointment’ by God of her into life as Paul did. How she was a signpost towards Christ as John the Baptist was.

    We had our afternoon Baptisms. The same ‘anointing- was happening. They were ‘anointed’ as special. As Christ. As Christians. As were the families. To make a world, suitable for the little ones to grow into. ‘The strength of God’ they had it if they wanted it. We had ‘waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped down to us.’ The dying lady. The sad family. The christening families.

    We gathered for Mass. We picked out the sentences that spoke to us. We focused on ‘the glory’ and the ‘stooping down’ and the ‘appointment’ and the extravagant picture of John the Baptist. We rambled into the following words as the disciples walked away from John. What do you want? Where do you live? Come and see.

    We then glanced back at the recent times. Young Keane, cut up in bits and put on display. I think we agreed that if you lie with dogs, you come up with flees. We mentioned young Cameron in Cork. We almost despaired at the drugs war. We spoke of shootings in St Margaret’s and in Clare. Elections obviously got a look in. Some of us felt rather strongly about our local politicians who stupidly were so absorbed in their own corners, that they lost us a Primary Care Unit. Trump and impreachment got a few comments as did Boris and his election. If those two could be elected; what hope had our world? Young Harry and Meghan was thrown in. The cold and the winter was part of the stew. The unholy row in Rome, with Benedict dragged into it was such nonsense. Tommy Tiernan and his guests were added this morning. The bubbly Joanne. The loquacious Joe Brolly with his unnecessary crude language. Moya Brennan and her beautiful and haunting singing.

    We stopped then. We had a context. Anointed. Appointed. Signpost. The Glory of God. Our challenge is: To accept our role. To be bold. To be positive. To be courageous. To be bright and breezy. To be bigger than the rubbish and negativity of any day. To be aware. To arch our minds and hearts towards the sunshine of everyday life. To let God’s glory shine. To lift our heads and hearts. To let the Gospel flourish. Jonathan Tulloch wrote in The Times (London) a week ago of walking with his family to plant some saplings. He mused. “Who will walk under them? Gaze at them? Love them? What species will gain sanctuary in their branches? “ He quoted Henderson (19th cent), “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” That is our story then. So many bask in misery and thoroughly enjoy it. That disease of those who enjoy ‘bad health’ and its equivalent and its variants are an abscess on the body of Christ. To be anointed and Christened – is to shine like bright stars.

    A better world is there for us to create. It is up to us. Indeed. What do you want? Where do you live? Come and see. And then Rabbie Burns might add some colour to how we live and what we show off. (Burn’s Night: O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” 25th January). We have a message. We are on fire. We have been challenged. We are ministers of love and light and hope and grace. Never get lost in the swamp of negativity. We are more than that and better.

    Our weekend isn’t about John the Baptist or Paul or Israel or a promised Christ; it is about us.
    Seamus Ahearne osa

  4. Seamus Ahearne

    Misspellings irritate me. Text spelling and short-cuts annoy me. How could a misspelling find its way into the above script? It should be impossible.

    Many years ago, back in the 60s, I worked in St Mary’s Hospital (in Phoenix Park). I had digs in Rathmines. The apartment was infested with fleas and I ran out of the place…. and nonetheless, the ‘fleas’ were misspelt above!

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