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Scripture Reflections - January 19
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time


READINGS
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6;
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
John 1: 29-34

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

The lights of Christmas and Epiphany have all faded. We’ve come from last Sunday’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord into eight Sundays in “Ordinary” time. Watch out! Ordinary time in the liturgy never means going back to “business as usual.” True, Jesus has long since grown out of his swaddling clothes, grown through puberty to life as an adult “man with a mission.” Certain words in the readings stand out – words like “servant” and “mission” and “follow me.”

The first reading from Isaiah was selected to show God’s plan for His Son. From Mary’s womb, he was destined to be His Father’s servant, that He might bring the chosen people back to faithful observance of the Law. But in the same reading, God says “It is too little for you to be my servant…I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Here we have a clear statement of what Jesus’ mission is all about.

In the Gospel, John gives eloquent testimony of what he heard God say from the heavens about His beloved Son. The very next day, John sees Jesus coming toward him. He turns to his own followers and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Why does John call Jesus a lamb? Because the world “lamb” connects Jesus with both the “suffering servant” of Isaiah and the paschal lamb of sacrifice.

Then he explains to them what had happened when he poured water over Jesus’ head, exclaiming that he saw the Spirit descend on him and remain with him. Only the prophetic power of the Baptist could make a statement like that!

Jesus acknowledges the truth of what John has said by beginning to gather his own followers. It’s a major turning point in the story of our salvation as Andrew and his brother Simon became the first disciples of the Lord. How casual it all seemed. They ask Jesus where he lives, and Jesus simply says, “Come and you will see.”

How attractive Jesus must have been to those seeking more from life. Older priests like myself find it puzzling that today’s young men do not seek Him out as Andrew did. Is it Jesus who fails to attract them? Or is it the life of the priest that doesn’t appeal? Young people should “come and see,” and ask their pastor for information and advice.

Of course, the underlying attraction is love. Unless a young man falls in love with Jesus as Andrew and Simon did, he will never pursue a vocation. Only love can quiet the voices of protest from the world around them and give them the courage to sacrifice the normal seeking out of a lovely woman with whom to have a family and build a career.

Why should young men seriously consider priesthood as a lifetime commitment? Because priesthood leads not only to personal holiness and salvation, but because it brings this about through the priest guiding countless others to salvation through the sacraments of the church. There is no other calling in life to equal it. It is a life of imitation of Jesus’ life and mission in his great love for people, his willingness to search out the lost, to counsel and encourage, bless and forgive sins by God’s power, to be a part of every family, yet belonging to none.

What does it take to become a priest? Priesthood takes sacrifice, generosity, common sense, adequate intelligence, piety and a sense of humor.

Know anyone that has those qualities? Then give them a nudge, pray for them and encourage them. The Holy Spirit will carry on from there!

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