SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)
Today, the Gospel tells us of this mysterious and most awaited meeting of the voice and the Word, the precursor and the Lamb, the cousins John the Baptist and Jesus. The voice has to fade out to give way to the Word, as John himself proclaims: “there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie” (Jn 1:26-27). The precursor does not take upon himself the name of the person he represents, so John declares: “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” (Jn 1:29-30).
In the Jewish culture, the lamb was associated with the Passover lamb that the Israelites partook, before God took them out of Egypt, and to save them from the Angel of death that passed through the land and killed all the firstborn of man and animals. Those that placed lamb or goat blood on their doorposts were saved, those without, perished. John the Baptist referred to this, and certainly he also saw lambs being brought to the Temple to be sacrificed. He pointed to Jesus as the Lamb to be offered and become the new Temple of believers. The blood of the Lamb is to save people from slavery to sin and vices that lead to sin, and lead all the faithful to the Father.
In the Temple of Jerusalem, lambs (and birds) were offered to God for the sins of the people. Even though people were hungry and needy, they had to offer and destroy the lambs (and birds) as offering, and thus, accordingly, to appease God for their sins. John then was referring to Jesus, as the prophets spoke of: gentle, meek and humble; that this Lamb would bear the sins of His people and die for them. This Lamb would be the only offering and sacrifice that could deliver people from their sins and make peace with God for them.
In the Book of the Maccabees, the horned lamb, a lamb with horns, was a symbol of a great conqueror. Judas Maccabeus was a picture of the horned lamb, as he conquered and destroyed with the sword all the enemies of God. The lamb, then was a reference for the champion of God, a picture of majesty and power. Jesus, in all His majesty and power, was the only champion of God, who would conquer and destroy evil and sin, and would bring people back to God. The Lamb of God is the victim and sacrifice, and yet the God who receives the sacrifice. He is the bearer of sins as well as the conqueror of evil. He is a seeming weakness and defeat for the fools, yet strength and triumph for believers.
John also testifies that he is not the Christ. He only points Christ to people. We, too, are only instruments of the Lamb of God, and we are encouraged to do our duties well, to point others to Jesus, so that we can be one in His Temple, His Body, and become Temples of the Holy Spirit.
Let us avoid that greed for power, influence and wealth that brings everything to ourselves. God will provide for everything that we need and for that sacrifice we all seek for our redemption; and all will share in the sufficiency of virtues in His Kingdom, for “when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but at the abundance that’s present…. the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth” (Sarah Ban Breathnach, http://www.quotelady.com).
So, live a life of gratitude, for each one has been redeemed for the Lamb:
1. Be thankful for your redemption. Receive the sacraments and live just and upright lives. Visit and pray to the Lamb of God in the Blessed Sacrament in Church. The Lamb of God is waiting for you.
2. Be thankful, and stop complaining. Be kind and loving in words and in deeds. Do a little service for your Church and for the needy. This is the way of the Lamb of God.
3. Be thankful, for from gratitude flows humility. Abide by the commands of God and the Church, and the laws of the land. Be responsible and be diligent at work. You are children of God, and we are one family.
Gratitude is attitude. Our attitude toward Jesus is our awareness of His mercy. When the Lamb of God is presented to us for communion we pray: Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. With Him as our light, let us shine as true Christians; and let our lives, saved by the Lamb of God, light up the whole world.