Is it really true? We’re already in ordinary time! What happened to Christmas and all those special feasts that helped us celebrate the wondrous mystery of the Incarnation, the birth of Christ? Yet, here we are, firmly planted in these many Sundays known as “ordinary time.” Still, as I have heard so many times, there is nothing ordinary at all about “ordinary time.”
In our readings for this Sunday, we hear the words spoken by the Lord to Isaiah: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” A ‘light to the nations,’ what amazing words, words that are spoken not only to Isaiah but to all of us who are people of faith, as well. These words remind us of the star shining in the heavens, calling the Three Kings to the birthplace of the Messiah, wise men guided by the light, touched by the light, and, even driven to change their lives, by God’s holy light. And many years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah is told that, he too, would become a light, a “light to the nations” as he fulfills the mission given him by God, to restore faith and hope in Israel.
On this ordinary Sunday we, too, receive this message from the Lord. We are called to be a light to the nations. And how do we do this? By witnessing our faith and sharing with all whom we meet the good news that Jesus is Lord. We are invited to remind everyone that, when we walk in the light of Christ, it can make a real difference in day-by-day life. Isn’t this what St. Paul means when he tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, that we have all been sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, even as we call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?
And lastly, our beautiful passage from the Gospel of John, narrating that special moment when John the Baptist first saw Jesus walking toward him by the Jordan river. We do not know if Jesus ever really knew his cousin as they were growing up before this extraordinary baptismal event, but we can only imagine how moved the Baptist was to finally see the one who was “filled with the Spirit,” the one who is truly “the Son of God!” Here is Jesus, in plain sight! Surely John’s heart would have been filled with the words spoken by his own father, Zechariah, when he cried out his song about his beloved child, John: “You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give His people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” An extraordinary moment we are invited to think about on this ordinary Sunday! We can all fall to our knees and cry out with John the Baptist: “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sin of the world.”
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.