Psalms in the Lectionary
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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A 2017

Psalms in the Lectionary
Psalm 40   2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time  Cycle A  1/15/2017
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3;
John 1:29-34
Psalm 40 is a two-part psalm, with the first part (verses 1-10) being a hymn of thanksgiving from trouble, and the second part (verses 11-18) being a lament or a plea for help.  Today, however, as we move further into the season of Ordinary Time, we are only singing the first portion and are recalling how God has set in motion our deliverance from our sins with the birth of the Messiah.  We have waited for a long time, but now, redemption is at hand.  This past week, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord, the feast that closed the Christmas season, but also inaugurated Jesus public life.  The days before the crèche in the hollowed out cave have led us to the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and before us is the work of Jesus Christ.  He has come to redeem the world. During the daily Masses this week, we have heard from Mark's gospel in which Jesus is beginning to proclaim that Kingdom and calls all to repepntance. For God, all is eternal.  The creche is the same as the Cross and the Cross is the same as the redemption of the world.  Fleming Rutledge, in her new text on the Crucifixion, ties the pieces together in her chapter 10, the center of the book in which Jesus descends into hell to redeem the world.  Facing Evil itself, Jesus and the entire godhead conquers death.  It is no accident that Mark's gospel stories this week are about exorcisms.  REdemption is unfolding and the beginning of the story puts Satan on notice.  The Kingdom of Goid is at hand!  In psalm 40, the psalmist tells God he understands that God does not want more burnt offerings, but rather for him to do God’s will.  So, he offers himself to God to embrace that will and to inscribe God’s law in his heart.  Not only that, he promises to spread the word, to announce God’s justice to the world (the vast assembly).  Psalm 40 is instructing us that the appropriate response for forgiveness and redemption is to evangelize the nations, to spread the word far and wide that Our God is an awesome God!  In the first reading, Isaiah tells us that God is preparing us for just such a task: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (49:6)  The Gospel is John the Baptist’s response to Jesus’ baptism on Monday.  After the skies opened up and the voice of God was heard to identify Jesus as “my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” John must have been awe-struck.  Today, he regains his voice and tells us this is the one for whom he has been waiting.  He IS the Son of God.  And Paul’s letter tells us we are called to be holy.  The psalm pulls all this together: We are called to do his will.  We are called to be holy.  “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will!”
The refrain is taken from verse seven of the psalm: 
 “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”
verses 2 & 4:
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
verses 7-8:
Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
Then I said, “behold I come.”
verses 8-9
In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
verse 10:
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
Today’s first reading from Isaiah (49:3, 5-6) describes how God has fashioned
us in the womb for this task: to spread the Good News to all the nations!
The LORD said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.  Now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! 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.
The Gospel from John (1:29-34) is John the Baptist’s response after he recognizes that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.  When he baptized him in the Jordon, the skies had opened, the Spirit descended and God declared: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” 
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.  He is the one of whom I said, ‘A Man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’  I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.”  John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.  I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
The second reading is from 1 Corinthians (1:1-3) and since it is the beginning of the letter, it employs the standard letter introduction used in Greek society when one was writing a letter to another person or community.  Paul modifies it a bit in that he always adds how both the addresser and addressee stand before Christ.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the Church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 40 is a wonderful hymn that brings together the beginning impulses of redemption: the Messiah has come; his work of redemption is beginning; god is asking that we come forward to do his will and enter the realm of the Holy.  “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will!”