Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Jan. 12: Second Sunday In Ordinary Time
Starting this Sunday we’ll be hearing a series of readings from I Corinthians. Paul founded the Church in Corinth during his second missionary journey around A.D. 50 (see Acts 18:1-17). In keeping with our first reading, the universality of the Church is evident. Paul addresses himself to “the church of God that is in Corinth,” whose members “are called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Even at this early date, the catholicity of the Church is already well established.
In this week’s Gospel reading, John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”—words that were highly significant to the crowds who were looking for the messiah. For 2,000 years, Israel had been awaiting the lamb that God himself would provide (Gn 22:8). Now, he has arrived.
Key verse: “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49: 5-6).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover. In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present” (No. 608; 1085).
Pope Benedict XVI: “At the extreme hour of Israel’s oppression in Egypt, the blood of the Paschal lamb had been the key to its liberation, now the Son who became a servant, the shepherd who became a sheep, no longer stands just for Israel but the liberation of the world, for mankind as a whole” (Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 1).
Life application: Christ founded the Catholic Church to complete God’s plan of salvation. The paschal sacrifice is truly present in the liturgy of the Church, which fulfills Israel’s calling to be “a light to the nations.” When the priest elevates the body and blood of Christ at Mass he repeats the words of John the Baptist: “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Here, as at the Jordan River 2,000 ago, Christ our redeemer is revealed to the world.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. For information on subscribing to "Breaking Open the Word, click here. For archives click here.