National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

An Ordinary Sunday

User’s Guide to Sunday


January 13-19, 2008 Issue | Posted 1/8/08 at 1:57 PM


Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, Cycle II). This Jan. 25 is the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. As he prepares the Church to observe the Year of St. Paul starting this June, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at Rome’s Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls at 5:30 p.m.

Parish offers “Best Practices” for parishes. Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the devastating Roe v. Wade abortion decision. The pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park, Minn., in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, holds a pro-life prayer vigil and Mass in December. One group goes to the abortion business while a second group (including children) gathers in the church. The priest leads a procession praying the Rosary/Divine Mercy Chaplet at the abortion business while children lead these same prayers in church. The two groups reunite for Mass. More details at the website.

Family offers “Next Sunday Ideas.” For this Sunday’s Gospel about John the Baptist recognizing Jesus, the site suggests a way to demonstrate to kids the difference between appearances and reality.

“Parents, find some clown glasses. Tell the children that there is something wrong with the lenses. When you wear them, you can only see clothes, no faces at all …” The activity cleverly leads into a discussion of today’s Gospel. More details at the website.

Media is the website for the bookstore of the Daughters of St. Paul. Click on “Children” then “Intermediate: Mary, Saints and Biographies” to find Saints for Young Readers for Every Day. We keep ours in the kitchen and refer to it almost every day to find the day’s saint. The two volumes keep each saint’s story brief but not superficial. They find a faith-filled middle ground between the skepticism of some modern books on the saints and the credulity of some older ones.

Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10; 1Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34 offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

In today’s first reading, the prophet calls Israel to receptivity.

“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.”

We might translate that: “It’s not enough to just be dutiful, even to the point of doing everything you can imagine doing for me. Be receptive to God, and then you will do things you can’t even imagine.”

Receptivity is our openness to hearing and accepting God’s direction — our acceptance of his plan, his truth and the people and circumstances he puts in our lives.

An activist who lacks this virtue will be too busy doing on his own terms to stop and hear God. The key is to be contemplative and active.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist points how to do this — literally. He points his disciples to Christ. The disciples’ reaction is to follow Jesus. They go to Christ, but they don’t say, “Master, what must we do?” Instead, they ask, “Where do you live?”

In these weeks of ordinary time, we should be asking the same question. This isn’t a time to remember the extraordinary events of Christ’s story. It’s time to discover “where he lives” and live there with him in our own lives.

The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine (