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This Sunday's Programme

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2nd Sunday Year C

Sunday 15th January 2023

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Jn 1:29-34

The next day, seeing Jesus come towards him, John said, ‘See and understand, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is the one I was talking about when I said that the one who comes after me ranks before me because he existed before me.  I didn’t realise it was him yet I came baptising in order to reveal him to Israel.’   And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descend like a dove and remain above him. I didn’t realise it was him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me that the one on whom I recognised the Spirit descending and remaining was the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit.  I saw and now I testify, this one is the Son of God.


The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 39:2, 4, 7-10

Patiently, I waited for the Lord,
and God stretched out to me,
drew close to hear my cry.
On my tongue he placed a new song:
Praise of my God.

Sacrifices, offerings, you don’t want these.
rather my heart open to your word.
Neither do you want gifts and donations
but my very self.

In your book, it is written
that I should do your will.
I desire to follow your law
from the depths of my being.

In the midst of many people
I have proclaimed your righteousness.
I have not been reluctant
to proclaim you, O God.



Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Loving God, inspire me to be like John the Baptist and truly enter into your revelation to me. Like him, may I ponder deeply what Jesus means to me. Send your the Spirit to remain upon me that I may witness to him by my life and my love.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

After the conclusion of the Prologue, the writer of this Gospel does not immediately introduce us to the person of Jesus. Rather, he gives a lengthy presentation of the ministry of John the Baptist. Structuring his material around a device of seven days, the writer shows how John understood Jesus, the call of the first disciples and the miracle of the wine at the wedding feast at Cana. This Sunday’s reading is the second of these days. While John the Baptist is not explicitly shown baptising Jesus, he plays a significant role in the early stages of this Gospel. The meaning that Jesus’ baptism had for John is extensively presented, not only here but later in chapter three where, after Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus, John is once again shown professing what he has come to understand about Jesus. Indeed in his constant reflection on the person of Jesus, he is shown to be the model disciple: one who has seen a sign and through prayer and reflection comes to an ever deeper understanding of who Jesus is and how he should relate to him.

In this second day, Jesus plays no active role, yet in coming towards John, he provides the catalyst for John’s proclamation of what he has come to believe about Jesus: that he is pre-existent, that he is the Lamb of God who will wake away the sin of the world, that he is the one on whom the Spirit descends, that he is the fulfilment of the divine promises, that he is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit, that he is the Chosen One of God. Even with the density of this information, John is clear that it is to all this that he has been called to witness. The interesting thing is that this information, at this stage, is not directed to any character in the story but rather operates for the readers’ benefit. We, the readers, have been given all the pertinent information concerning Jesus before he even begins to act. That happens on the next day in the writer’s schema. But we are prepared. We have now to accept and appreciate the meaning of the signs that will now be unfolded through this Gospel.


Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

When John the Baptist came, preaching repentance and offering baptism, the religious establishment were quick to try and define who he was. He repeatedly had to assert who he was not – not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet. All he would say of himself was that he was preparing for someone, someone greater than himself.

Then when Jesus comes towards him, his vision clarifies: he knows what Jesus is and for what he has come: ‘the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.’ In the midst of witnessing to who Jesus is, John twice affirms his ignorance. His words, ‘I did not know him,’ while looking like a profession of ignorance, are actually shot through with wonder before the mystery. The irony is that it is in wonder before the person of Jesus that John comes to his fullest self- identity: the one who baptised in order to reveal the one who existed before him; the one who saw the Spirit descend and so the one could testify who was the Chosen One of God.

Later in the Gospel, John clarifies his relationship to the Jesus even more. He is the friend of the Bridegroom. His own joy complete in being less before the Christ, he is able to see and testify to who the Christ is: the one who has come down from heaven and who speaks God’s own words and who offers eternal life to the world.

Our society puts great store on having a strong and confident self-image, yet at the same time, there is a pressure to conform to the groups within which we find ourselves. What results is often a person, conflicted and unhappy. In the person of John the Baptist, we see another way to understanding who one is. John was at ease, with uncertainty. He lived peaceably in the dark wonder of mystery and ultimately, it was in relation to the person of Jesus that he found his true identity…as we will ours.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

– Mosaic of St John the Baptist.

John pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God by Giovanni di Paolo. (click red text)

–  St John the Baptist  by El Greco. (click red text)

St John the Baptist in the Wilderness by Caravaggio

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

As you go through this week, mull on what images and words you would use to describe who you believe Jesus Christ to be.  Can you imagine how these could influence how you act in the ordinary circumstances of life?

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

John the Baptist used a number of images and words to describe who Jesus was and what his mission would be: Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the one who existed before him, the one who would baptise with the Holy Spirit, the Chosen One of God. Take some time to sit with these images and ponder what they could mean to you.

If you had to compile your own list, how would you describe Jesus and what he had done in your life?

Rest in the love of your God.