This past week, we began the period of Ordinary Time, the counted (i.e., ordinal) weeks in the liturgical calendar. Today’s readings inspire us to think about our calling from God.
‘Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.’ (Jn 1:34)
What can I do to live a life that is sanctified and holy?
Are my public actions a good reflection of who I am called to be?
What steps can I take to grow spiritually during
As on the feast of the Baptism of Jesus last week, the first reading is one of the Servant Songs in the Book of Isaiah. In the context of the Babylonian exile, the Servant Songs highlight the trauma of suffering and the restoration that is provided by the Lord. Notably, Isaiah asserts that this sufferer was formed “from the womb” to be a servant of the Lord (Is 49:5). This prenatal calling has important parallels to the prophet Jeremiah and the apostle Paul, who both assert that they were commissioned from within their mothers’ wombs (Jer 1:5, Gal 1:15). These callings remind us of God’s intimate connection to our conception, formation and purpose.
In the second reading, we see how that call takes shape in Paul’s life. Paul’s letter addresses the church of God at Corinth, people sanctified in Christ Jesus who are called to be holy (1 Cor 1:2). In the salutation, Paul establishes his role as an apostle of Christ. He is commissioned to visit and correspond with communities, support their development, clarify theology and affirm the significance of belief in the resurrection. Moreover, Paul calls on these communities to live lives that will strengthen their relationships with God and one another, lives that are sanctified and holy.
The Gospel reading provides a vivid example of a prophetic call in action. John the Baptist offers a public testimony about who Jesus is: the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). The theme of Jesus as a sacrificial, Passover lamb is prominent in the Gospel of John (1:36, 19:14, 36). This theological assertion explains that Christ’s death on the cross is to redeem humanity. By proclaiming Christ as “Lamb of God,” John makes a Christological claim about the significance of Jesus and his death. This powerful imagery influences later Christian prayers, including the “Lamb of God” prayer said before Communion is distributed at Mass. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist offers a public witness, proclaiming Jesus’ death for the redemption of the world.
Today’s readings provoke us to self-reflection and action. We should recognize God’s intimate connection to our origins and live thoughtfully in a way that honors our human dignity. We can draw inspiration from Paul, who worked to spread the Gospel and encouraged people to embrace its message and shape their lives accordingly. We should also be inspired by John the Baptist, who publicly testified on behalf of Christ. As we proceed through this new year, we should be mindful of who we are called to be and work to enrich our lives and the lives of others.