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This Sunday we begin what is known as “Ordinary Time” in our Church year. This designation is not meant to diminish the importance of this time of year, but rather to distinguish it from the seasons of Advent and Christmas, which we just concluded, and the seasons of Lent and Easter. At the conclusion of the Easter season, “Ordinary Time” will begin again, and will continue through the summer and fall months.
Our Gospel this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John. In this Gospel John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him and says: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And while John initially says that he did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Gospel concludes with his clear statement: “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” I suspect the reason John didn’t recognize Jesus was that he knew him as his cousin. Eventually, though, he came to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Familiarity can sometimes blind us to seeing something beyond the familiar.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It is from that section of Isaiah known as the Servant Songs. In the section we read today Isaiah speaks about his call to be a prophet. He is clear that God will work through him “to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel.”
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the beginning of the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In it Paul identifies himself, and greets the people of Corinth with the words: “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Questions for Discussion/Reflection:
1. Has familiarity with a person or a situation ever blinded you to the presence and/or grace of God?
2. Have you ever recognized God’s presence and grace only in retrospect?
3. Why do you think Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with the words: “Grace and peace?”