After the Baptism of the Lord, there’s the second Sunday of Ordinary Time. What happened to the first Sunday of Ordinary Time?

2 Answers 2


The Catholic website ChurchYear.net has a good explanation, though it goes beyond what you're asking. Briefly:

The title "The Nth Sunday of" any season is short for "Sunday in the Nth week of" that season. This matches the titles given to the other days of the week: for example "Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent".

The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord is traditionally celebrated on the 6th of January, and the Baptism of the Lord on the following Sunday. Under certain circumstances, episcopal conferences can choose to have the Epiphany celebrated on the Sunday following January 1st (the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God). If this is the case, and that Sunday falls on or before the 6th, the Baptism of the Lord is to be celebrated on the following Sunday - on its traditional day. If, however, that first Sunday falls on the 7th or 8th (the last possible date), Epiphany is celebrated on that day (while others are celebrating the Baptism of the Lord) and the Baptism of the Lord itself is celebrated in these dioceses on the following day, Monday the 8th or 9th.

If this seems complicated, it is. But the takeaway is that the Christmas season ends with the Baptism of the Lord on either a Sunday or a Monday. The following days constitute the first week of Ordinary Time - but that week doesn't begin on Sunday - the Sunday belongs to the Christmas season! Therefore, there is no "Sunday in the First Week of Ordinary Time" - no "First Sunday of Ordinary Time".

The first full week of the season is the second week, and so here we see Sunday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time - free Second Sunday of Ordinary Time.

  • The summarized explanation in the last paragraph is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!
    – Craig
    Jan 14, 2019 at 15:27
  • 1
    You're welcome! I find it interesting that, although Lent never begins on a Sunday either, that gets handled a completely different way and Lent does have a First Sunday. Jan 14, 2019 at 23:21
  • "The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord is traditionally celebrated on the 6th of January, and the Baptism of the Lord on the following Sunday." Your statement is only half true. Traditionally the Feast of the Epiphany is on January the 6th, but the traditional date for the Baptism of the Lord is January 13th. It has only been celebrated on the Sunday following the Epiphany since Pope Paul VI inaugurated the New Mass in 1969. Hardly a traditional date. At least not yet.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 3 at 2:05

Why is there no first Sunday of Ordinary Time?

The First Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Being a feast, we do not call it the First Sunday of Ordinary Time, but rather the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This is exceeding fitting as the Baptism of the Lord is considered the beginning of the public life of Jesus.

535 Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. John preaches "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins". A crowd of sinners - tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. "Then Jesus appears." The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, "This is my beloved Son." This is the manifestation ("Epiphany") of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

The following article explains this quite well:

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the first Sunday of the Ordinary Time. The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River is the example of the baptism of every Christian. In this feast we see our own Baptism and we look for the correct explanation of it. Sometimes we recognize our baptism as a membership in the Church. Sometimes we regard it as a very important step of our own life. In every quest we have to come back for the truth of the Baptism. That it is the Baptism in the Christ – we have to live as Jesus lived. That it starts our spiritual life, that it is the first step in our sacramental life. We have to remember the main importance of Baptism, that in it we are saved from sins. When we live in the grace of the Baptism – that means without sin – we can be happy in our earthly and spiritual lives. - Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord - First Sunday in Ordinary Time

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