B Cycle – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 15

John points to Jesus and says, Behold the Lamb of God. This reference to Christ as Lamb of God is a term we as Catholics are accustomed to hearing.  We hear it weekly as the priest concludes the Eucharistic prayers. As the Priest elevates the host, our eyes and attention is on the very presence of Christ in the Eucharist. At that moment, our response to the presence of the Lamb of God is one of reverence and awe.  Yet throughout our liturgy, we are celebrating the Pascal Mystery – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  All we do during our liturgy is about Christ sacrifice as the Lamb of God.  Those disciples standing with John that day would have understood something different about John’s words.  They would have called to mind a visual image about the sacrificial lamb. The disciples of John had a long history filled with images of the Lamb of God. There’s was a history filled with forgiveness of sin each time a lamb was sacrificed. They could look back on almost a thousand of years of sacrificing lambs in the temple for the atonement of sin. They yearly would celebrate the memory of the exodus when the Passover lamb was slaughtered.  The Passover lamb’s whose blood was put on the lintels of their doors so that the angel of death would pass by their homes.  This Passover event is a reminder of how the lamb was sacrificed so they would not only live but would be set free from the bonds of slavery.  They also had the vivid visual of their celebration of the Feast of the Atonement when a lamb is sacrificed for the sins of all.  On that feast the priest “shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the sinful faults and transgressions of the Israelites’ and so put them on the goat. He shall have the goat lead away into the wilderness, the goat carries on itself their iniquities” (Lv.16:21). Andrew and the other disciple worshiped in the temple, listening to the Torah and the words of the prophets.  In their day, there was no liturgy, there was no Eucharist.  Their eyes were on a man walking past them and on hearing John’s words they immediately followed him.  What were they seeking as they began to follow him?  What can we learn from tem so our own response helps us in knowing Christ?  First we should think about what are we seeking as we come before this Lamb of God each and every week.  If you reflect on our verbal response at that point, it is one of acknowledging our sinfulness and we ask for mercy.  Yet when you compare our response with that of the disciples, one would wonder if we are responding to the same Lamb of God.  I am not certain the response we make could ever be the same as the response of the disciples. They had a thousand years of sacrificing a lamb.  We have thousands of years of theology and dogma and experience that form our faith.  They were Jews; God’s chosen people, waiting for the promised Messiah.  At that moment, they had the testimony of one man pointing to Christ and saying Behold the Lamb of God. I believe we can learn from their response and instead of being satisfied with a verbal response; we should seek to be as close to Christ as the disciples did on that day. Before the new sacramentary came out last Advent, the action of the priest as he said “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” was more pronounced than it is today. Prior to the new sacramentary the presider held the host aloft and as those words were spoken, he visibly broke the consecrated host in two.  That action was a powerful symbol of the broken body of Christ; broken so that the barrier of sin which separated us from God was also broken. Christ’s submission to the flogging, to the crown of thorns, to carrying the cross and being nailed to the cross, to his agony of hanging on the cross for three hours was for one purpose. That purpose was so we could stand in righteousness before God.  It was the fulfillment of the prophecies of how God would make it possible for us to be heirs to the kingdom.  One of those prophesies in Isiah 53: says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us following his own way, but the Lord placed on him the guilt of us all.”  Each time we hear those words, Lamb of God, we should remember not only that all he endured was for us to be reconciled but that it was because God desires to be in communion with us.  The Lamb of God made that a reality but we must choose to be in communion with God. Our response to the Lamb of God should be more than just one of reverence and awe.  We should move beyond just understanding that nothing we have done made us worthy to receive this gift of salvation.  We all know that we are unworthy of God’s grace.  We do not have to be in the presence of Christ to feel unworthy.  Even the scriptures remind us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23).  But God’s revelation of himself in scripture gives us a clear picture of how he responds to our sin.  Those examples show us how he welcomes us into his presence; how he embraces us not rejects us; how he rejoices over us and celebrates for “we were once “dead and (now have) begun to live, was lost and has been found’” (Lk. 15:32).  Paul tells us there is no condemnation in Christ, so we can joyfully enter into the presence of God.  Enter into his presence seeking only to know more fully the depth of God’s love. Then to respond to that love by being the ones that say to others, Come and See – We have found the Messiah!

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