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2 Epiphany, Year A: Night

SUNDAY’S READINGS | January 15, 2023

Isa. 49:1-7
Ps. 40:1-12
1 Cor. 1:1-9
John 1:29-42

In union with Christ, we are bold to say, “Our Father who art in heaven.” We say these words as the adopted sons and daughters of God in whom Christ dwells. Christ himself prays in us to the Father. Our prayer is first his, and so we pray confidently and boldly, knowing that all our prayers, sanctified by the Spirit, enter the courts of heaven and find their rest in the beating heart of the Father. “God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27). In such prayer, nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). The searched heart knows Christ and is known by him.

God is not divided; thus, where God is, he is wholly. In this sense, we already have all that God is. God is the unending source of our confidence and the wellspring of prayer. However, our capacity to experience and appropriate the fullness of the divine life is limited both by our human condition and moral state. Confidence, then, must be augmented by profound humility. Like John the Baptist, we may say, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! … After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me. I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. … I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-30, 32, 34). Amid these affirmations, John says twice, “I myself did not know him” (John 1:31, 33).

The way of knowing is the way of unknowing. There is always more of God to experience, to know, to love, to serve, and to adore. “How wonderful, and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son” (Exultet, Easter Vigil). “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways” (Rom. 11:33). Our knowledge of God is true, and our prayer to him efficacious. Yet we have not attained to the fullness of God. Thus, our lives are marked by confidence and humility, boldness and deep silence before the mystery of God. We are summoned to a “high cliff,” a summit beyond all creation.

The psalmist gives us words: “He lifted me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD” (Ps. 40:2-3). “You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted” (Ps. 40:5-6). Entering more deeply into the divine darkness, God will “strengthen [us] to the end,” where he is all in all (1 Cor. 1:8).

Go forth in God, confident but free of all arrogance. Be faithful in many small steps to the high cliff of divine contemplation. Humility is the sure way of ascent.

Look It Up: 1 Corinthians 1:4

Think About It: “For in every way we have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind. … so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1 Cor. 1:5, 7). And yet we proceed in humility, because the riches of God are inscrutable, the knowledge of God beyond all knowing.


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