This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications
and is included here with their permission.
1 Corinthians 1.1-9
“…. I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God”
In the Old Testament reading for today we hear the “servant of the Lord” saying:
“The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.”
He goes on to speak of the experience of being called by God to a specific task to achieve a specific purpose.
“I will give you as a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
This sense of destiny and calling is present in the lives of both John the Baptist and Jesus.
According to Luke they were both named by the angel Gabriel before they were conceived. Zechariah, John’s father, is told “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.” while Mary is told “ .. you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you will name him Jesus.”
Their vocation is also revealed. John “will be great in the sight of the Lord … He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God”. Jesus “will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High, …”
In our Gospel reading we see how John’s calling is fulfilled and how Jesus begins to live out his vocation as God’s Anointed One, the Messiah.
As was foretold by his father, John does indeed “go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”
John has been told how he will recognise the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit and so he has been looking out for the sign – the dove descending and remaining on Jesus. When he sees this he proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God and his calling has now been fulfilled.
Jesus, though, is just beginning his public life as the chosen one of God and is preparing for the journey ahead.
Andrew and his friend follow Jesus to where he is staying and during that time
they learn enough for Andrew to go and tell his brother, Simon, about him. When Simon comes to Jesus he is immediately given the new name of Peter, the Rock. A name whose significance will be seen when he is called to be the foundation of God’s new church.
So we see in this Gospel reading the fulfilment of John’s ministry as the prophet of the most high and the initial preparations Jesus makes for his journey as he gathers around him those he calls to follow him.
We may not have grown up with a sense of destiny which was planned before our birth. Our names were probably chosen by our parents rather than declared by angels.
We may not have had a single moment when God called us to a specific vocation or task. Our baptism and perhaps confirmation are markers of our spiritual journey and for some ordination or licensing mark a moment of “commissioning” and special blessing.
But what if we don’t have any sense of being especially important to God in his work, no office or title to set us apart from “ordinary” Christians? Does that mean we’re not that important to God and he doesn’t much care what we’re doing with our lives so long as we believe in him?
Paul addresses his letter to the Christians in Corinth in this way:
“To the church of God, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.”
Paul sees that all followers of Jesus are sanctified and part of one fellowship. We know that he also sees every single member of that fellowship as important and significant to all others.
We may not have the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist, the evangelistic ministry of Andrew or the leadership role of Peter but we are all deeply loved by a God who has known us and called us to himself from before we were born. We are all part of the great story of the fellowship of the saints and caught up in the work of God as he seeks to restore us and all his children to the fullness of the relationship he wants to have with us.
And Paul assures us that God calls us and “will also strengthen (us) to the end, so that (we) may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
1. The births, names and vocation of John the Baptist and Jesus were foretold by the angel Gabriel.
2. John fulfils his calling when he recognises and proclaims Jesus as the Son of God.
3. Jesus calls his first disciples to join him.
4. We too are known and called by God to follow Jesus and we each have our own gifts and strengths to us for the good of others.
Remembering that God knows and loves each of his children before they are born, let us pray for the needs of this world and for the coming of God’s kingdom.
We pray for God’s church and for all those who have been called into ministry either through ordination as deacons, priests and bishops or as lay people especially equipped to be leaders, teachers and carers for God’s children.
We pray for this world in its brokenness and need. We pray for those who bear the responsibilities of government that they might hear and respond to God’s calling for peace and reconciliation, justice and freedom from oppression.
We pray for our own communities and especially for those who struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives. We pray that we might all seek to become the people God means us to be, serving him in the people around us.
We pray for those in pain or distress and for all those who are called to alleviate suffering, to treat dis-ease and to hold the Christ-light for all in darkness and sorrow.
Heavenly Father, you watch over your children with tender love and compassion. We thank you for hearing our prayers. We ask that you use them to enrich, strengthen and bless both those for whom we have prayed and us that we might allow your will to be done in our lives.