Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Wed, Jan 5, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time [a]

January 16, 2010



     Isaiah 49:3, 5-6

     1 Corinthians 1:1-3

     John 1:29-34



January 16: Religious Freedom Day

January 17: Martin Luther King Day Observed in the USA

January 18 – 25: Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 23-24: National Prayer Vigil for Life in Washington DC




Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.

Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 49


 What is being looked for is not simply the solution to one problem, but an entire shift of world view away from patterns of dominance toward mutually enhancing relationships.

Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is, 28


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The world needs God. It needs universal, shared ethical and spiritual values, and religion can offer a precious contribution to their pursuit, for the building of a just and peaceful social order at the national and international levels.

-Pope Benedict XVI, 1 January 2011


Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr.


Thoughts for your consideration


The selection from Isaiah is a powerful statement about what God desires to do through human beings.  God will show divine glory in those who serve God and God will even allow them to be a light to all nations.  In the gospel reading, John the Baptist says that this power of the Spirit can be seen most clearly in Jesus, who is the very Son of God.


God’s spirit is available and wants to do great things!


In this time of war, in this era of violence and terror, in this generation that is struggling with issues around globalization, in this world economy with so many inequalities, in a time when millions of people are out of work in the United States, in the is time of strong political fighting in our governments, in this week of prayer for Christian Unity, during this week when people gather in Washington to pray and rally for life, in this era when many feel divided by ideological positions, we are called to believe that this spirit can bring together the diverse and divided people of our world.  We are called to believe that we can make a difference and that God’s spirit creates “a light to the nations” and “a salvation that will reach to the ends of the earth.”  God wants the light of justice and peace to shine in the world.




Today’s selection from Isaiah proclaims: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  God’s global vision is beginning to break through in these words from Isaiah.  God does not care only for a special group of people. God’s love and God’s vision is global. God wants a certain type of “healthy globalization.” 


It seems that the increasingly globalized economy has lots of winners and lots of losers.  It seems that many (though not all) of the poor are losers in the system.   Our social teaching reminds us that God calls us to work to include everyone, including the poor. 


Large corporations and economic interests have excessive power.  Ordinary people and even the governments of many nations seem to be left out.  Our social teaching reminds us that God calls us to work to include everyone, including the poor. 


John the Baptist points to the light of Christ.  Christ calls us to a global concern -- a concern for justice for all the people of our world – a call not to rest until all God’s people experience justice.




Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group


Which social problem would you most like to see the Spirit heal in our time?




John the Baptist points to Jesus.  What do we point to?  Who points us to God today?



Actions - Links


The King Holiday, observed January 17, 2011   Many cities and places in the US have ecumenical and interfaith services to remember Dr. King and his vision of and work for justice and peace in our nation and world. Participation in such events can help us renew our vision and commitment to social justice and help us network with others who are seeking the same things.

·     Info about Dr. King and efforts to keep his vision alive can be found at the web site of the King Center in Atlanta: .  

·     The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research Institute at Stanford University “provides an institutional home for a broad range of activities illuminating the Nobel Peace laureate’s life and the movements he inspired.”  Their site is at:  . At the site you will find curriculum resources for teaching about Dr. King and even recordings of some of his speeches.


National Prayer Vigil for Life Information Jan. 23-24, 2011: Info can be found at the web site of the Bishop’s Conference at


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

       Christians around the world celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity together from January 18 to 25, with the encouragement of the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. We must work as one for peace and justice. For more info go to: .

        During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we sometimes add a prayer for unity to our Eucharist; sometimes we join in a common ecumenical service with other denominations. We might also consider how we can act together for justice and peace, acting out of the common faith that we share with all the other Christian Churches.  Our common commitment to peace and justice can be a source of unity between the churches.


“Crazy Facts”


Washington, D.C. – November 15, 2010 – More than 50 million Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2009, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Of them, 17.2 million are children (23.2 percent of all children). Previously, in 2008, 49.1 million Americans were in food insecure households. The 2009 number is the highest since USDA first started the survey in 1995.

The number of people in the worst-off category (living in “very low food secure” households) – the hungriest Americans – rose from 17.3 million to 17.7 million. The number of people in this category in 2009 is more than double the number in 2000.

Particularly large increases from 2008 to 2009 occurred for households with children under age six (from 22.3 percent to 22.9 percent – and up from 17.1 percent in 2007), married couple families with children, households living in poverty, suburban households, and households in the West. The rate for white, non-Hispanic households rose, while that for black households fell and the Hispanic household rate was unchanged.

The increase in 2009 is very modest compared to what happened in 2008. From 2007 to 2008, according to USDA data released a year ago, the number of people in food insecure households leapt from 36.2 million to 49.1 million. 2008 was the first year of the recession.


Prayers of Intercession


Response: Let us respect God’s gift of life.

For a deeper respect for human life from conception to natural death, we pray….

For all the people of the earth, especially the poor, we pray….

For those caught up in situations of war and violence, we pray….

For those without access to medical care, we pray…..

For children without access of quality education, we pray….

For women who find themselves excluded from power and influence, we pray….

For the environment with all is beauty and all its distress, we pray….




Basic necessities of life


We pray for the Church throughout the world,

that she may be a voice for those who lack even the basic necessities of life,

tirelessly serving them and calling for change.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


We pray for the world’s leaders,

that they may not hide behind their power or abuse it,

but work for the good of all humanity,

particularly the poor throughout the world.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


We pray for our local community,

that we may show our love through our respect for each other

and for our environment, gladly sharing what we have with those in need.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer


Linda Jones/CAFOD from



Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Prayers and other spiritual resources for celebrating the life of Dr. King can be found at