2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
January 19, 2020
Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville 9:30 and 11:15am
The Beloved Lamb
There is a old story about two men who were living in the same small town.
The one man was very rich and powerful; the other was very poor and powerless. The rich man owned so many sheep that he lost count of them, but the poor man had only one, tiny lamb.
The poor man’s children loved this little lamb so much that they treated it like a member of the family. They played with it all day long and even brought it to the dinner table to share the little food they had to eat.
Then one day an important visitor came to the rich man’s house for dinner. The rich man wanted to serve a special meal but he didn’t want to kill any of his own lambs to feed the guest.
So, he had his servants go over to the poor man’s house, take that family’s only lamb, and slaughter it for dinner. Now, the prophet Nathan tells this story in the Old Testament.
And, this story of the beloved lamb is one of the images that John the Baptist must have had in mind in today’s gospel. John points to Jesus and says, “There is the lamb of God.”
John means,“There is God’s beloved lamb.” Like the one beloved lamb of that poor family, Jesus is God’s beloved Son and he is unjustly put to death.
The Sacrificial Lamb
Now besides this image of the beloved lamb, there is a second image that John must have had in mind.
This is the image of the lambs that were sacrificed everyday in the Temple in Jerusalem. These lambs were seen as sacrifices to atone for sin.
So, John points to Jesus and says, “There is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus is like those sacrificial lambs because he sacrifices himself for our sins.
But, he is also unlike those lambs because, as John says today, he is “the lamb of God.”Jesus is the sacrifice that once and for all time brings us reconciliation with God.
The Victorious Lamb
Finally, John must have also had a third image in mind.
The Book of Revelation pictures a victorious lamb. The author describes his vision of a lamb on a heavenly throne with people from all over the earth giving him honor.
So, John speaks of Jesus as “the Lamb of God …the one who ranks ahead of me because he is before me.” John’s idea is that Jesus ranks first, above him and above everyone else in the human family.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who rose from the dead. This is why he now receives honor and praise as the victorious lamb.
The Lamb of God for Us
So, John the Baptist has these three images in mind about Jesus.
Before we receive communion here at Mass, we sing three times: “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” It is helpful to remember these three images as we sing these acclamations.
First, we remember the image of the one beloved lamb of the poor family. And we express our love for Jesus as the beloved Son and Lamb of God.
Here we can also recall that we ourselves are also beloved. Each of is is a beloved daughter or son of God.
Then we remember the image of the sacrificial lamb of the Temple. Here in the sacrifice of the Mass we offer Jesus himself under the forms of bread and wine.
Here we can also recall that we are to be sacrificial. Our sacrifice is intentionally to give our daily lives to Christ by accepting him as our way.
And finally, we remember the image of the victorious lamb in heaven. We do this when we say at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer: “Through him, with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. Amen”
And as we do that, here we can also recall that we too have the promise and hope of heaven. That victory over death will also be ours through the victorious lamb.