for the second Sunday of the Year
Is 49:3 & 5-6 - 1 Cor 1:1-3 - Jn 1:29-34
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
The Servant of God
Is 49:3 & 5-6
Is 49:3, And the Lord said to me, «You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.» 5, And now the Lord says, who formed me from 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 eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength-- 6, 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 preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.»
Wherever the Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday following the first day of the year, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord takes place on the Sunday following that of the Epiphany. Thus, the celebration of this day, which is the second Sunday of Ordinary Time, always takes place after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It is for this reason that the texts of the liturgy for this day plunge us once again into that mysterious atmosphere in which the Father reveals his Son as He who brings to the entire world the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love!
Throughout his prophecy, Isaiah speaks to us at length of the Servant of God, the theme of this homily. The expression "Servant" announces the particular mission of the Messiah who is to come: the Son is the envoy of the Father, the Servant of the Most High, born in time in order to announce the eternal Good News of the Father, murmured without cease in the Love of the Holy Spirit! It was necessary, thanks to the immense Love of the Father, for the Son take the condition of a Servant, thus making it possible for men and women to become adopted sons and daughters of God!
Isaiah does not limit himself to announcing this mission of the Servant: he also describes it, saying what its object is and what its consequences are. Its object is to "raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel"; its consequences are that the Servant of God, for having humbled himself before God and before men, will be raised to the highest dignity: "I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Let us thank the Lord for having given us such a Servant, dead and risen in the Person of Jesus, Son of God!
1 Cor 1:1-3
1 Cor 1:1, Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2, 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: 3, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Paul spoke several times of his vocation, notably in the first two chapters of his epistle to the Galatians. Here, he presents himself to the Corinthians as he who was "called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus." To be called, must one not have heard the call, and responded to it? Is this not the attitude of a servant with respect to the master who calls? Of course, here we do not speak of the servant's function that was accomplished by Christ himself. But Paul is called to imitate Christ, to be an apostle of Christ Jesus!
In replying to the call of God, Paul participates in the object of the mission of Christ: the realization of the unity of all the faithful! In the measure that Paul responds to the call of God, he already realizes, between Christ and himself, the unity willed by the Father. For, responding to the call of God is sanctifying and instructs us about God's will for us: "Paul, ... 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."
Just as Christ is the Light of the Nations announced by Isaiah (49:6), so, by responding, like Saint Paul, to the call of Christ, we too can become light in the Lord : "For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." (Eph 5:8) It is by serving the Lord that we become "the light of the world" (Matt 5:14)!
Jn 1:29, John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, «Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30, This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.' 31, I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.» 32, And John bore witness, «I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 33, I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34, And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.»
Related to the theme of this homily, let us note in this Sunday's gospel the following words of John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus come to him: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Present throughout the holy scriptures, we find the image of the lamb when Abel offers to God "the firstborn of his flock" (Gen 4:4), and in the vision of Saint John, who contemplates the celestial Lamb (Apocalypse, passim). But it can also be found in Isaiah, who proclaims this dead and risen lamb for the Redemption of the world: "The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter." (Is 53:6-7)
Today, each time we participate in the Eucharist, we hear the priest proclaim, at the moment of communion: "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" Let us be grateful, let us receive into our heart the Lamb, the Servant of God, and become, by the grace of God, servants in the Servant of God! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary deign to bless our offering!