(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Mass-Blog-for-the-2nd-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-2023.mp3)
In this Sunday’s gospel reading from John (Jn 1:29-34), he quotes John the Baptist telling of a divine calling to testify to the presence among us of a savior he didn’t know. The Baptist says twice that he didn’t know this entity when called, but that didn’t stop him from answering the call of “the one who sent me.”
By contrast, in Sunday’s first letter from Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 1:1-3), written many years after the Baptist was beheaded and the savior he baptized was crucified, Paul testifies to a similar calling, but mentions the name of his caller FOUR times in his letter’s introduction alone. For the rest of that letter, he can’t stop mentioning it.
What both prophets have in common is knowing they’ve been called, and for what: to save their world from itself. The inhabitants of the worlds in which those prophets lived were getting confused by the nature of those worlds. Those worlds told their people it was natural and wise to follow their little leaders who told them what they wanted to hear. The result was constant warring and division among the leaders of those little worlds. Later in his letter, Paul addresses the divisions among the “wise” people of Corinth:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.” … Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.
The prophet Isaiah had that faith long before an unknown God dwelt among us bearing the name Paul couldn’t stop saying. In Sunday’s first reading (Is 49:3, 5-6), Isaiah tells us of a God who knew HIM as He formed him in the womb to be a messenger to EVERYONE on earth, regardless of tribe or geography.
It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
But each of us 21st centurions whom that same Creator knows as well as he knew the spirits going by the names Isaiah, Paul and John (and we ALL know souls named John), are called to summon the courage to look beyond the horizon of the earth we know, and search out the One who created us to be one with him. While we are here in a world whose wisdom tells us we’re alone, it may help to adopt the foolishness that inspired 17th century English writer and philosopher William Penn to put our real lives in the perspective of the One who gave them to us:
“We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gave them to us. Yet as thou didst not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return. What thou gave thou takes not away, O Lover of souls; for what is thine is ours also if we are thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; and draw us closer to thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with thee. And while thou dost prepare for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where they are and thou art, we too may be for evermore.”
A world where we’re all one with God’s way, truth and life.