Sunday, January 19, 2020

Homily and Reflection

Here is a homily/reflection for this Sunday. Taken from A Catholic Moment;

The Agnus Dei “Lamb of God” is one of the titles given to Christ in the bible. This is typical in the writings of St John the Evangelist. In the book of Revelation, he equally referred to Christ as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
Meanwhile, the use of this title “Agnus Dei” in the order of the mass was introduced in the Roman Rite by Pope Sergius (687–701). At first, this might have been an act of aberration according to the Byzantine Rite (Constantinople) which originally forbade the iconographic depiction of Christ as an animal, and in this case, a lamb.
However, in today’s Liturgy of the Word, we learn that Christ has a title. John reveals him as that nameless Servant of Yahweh spoken of in the First Reading by Isaiah. And in the Second Reading, Paul calls him Christ Jesus. 

FIRST READING: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
The First Reading is the second song to the servant of Yahweh. First it describes the authenticity of the servant as one called by God himself: “You are my servant in whom I will be glorified.” And secondly, it describes his mission as one who is to be a light to the nations so that the salvation of God will reach to the ends of the Earth. Yes, God will never cease to think about his people, that is why His primary concern is that they be saved.
When Isaiah speaks of ‘light’ he refers to the darkness of men’s life that needs to be illuminated. He refers to the salvation from the slavery of sin. This is the work of God and the mission of the servant. This servant who will be a light to those in the darkness of sin will be revealed in the Gospel by John the Baptist. He will call him “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Yes, Christ is that light that has shone in the darkness of men’s life.

SECOND READING: I Corinthians 1:1-3
It is characteristic of Paul to introduce himself to the Christian communities founded by him. This is very important not just from the point of view of making himself known to the community but also to affirm the authenticity of his vocation as an apostle called directly by the post-resurrection Christ himself. It is also a way to inform his community to always keep in mind the source of the the authentic message they have first received so as to be conscious of other false self-acclaimed prophets and teachers that were diffusing false doctrines.
Today Paul addresses his first letter to the Corinthians. The city of Corinth was an indecent seaport in cosmopolitan Greece. At the time Paul was writing, there was a strong wave of all forms of Greek philosophy coupled with the vice we find in every seaport. These were making a great impact in the lives of the Corinthians. Therefore he reminds them of their call to witness to holiness: “sanctified and called to be holy.” And again in this second reading we see that an accent to the servant is still maintained. Paul is mentioned as the servant, the apostle of Christ Jesus who is the true Servant himself.

GOSPEL: John 1:29-34
The Evangelist John has a distinctive character of portraying the image of Christ. Apart from our passage today where he refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God, in the Book of Revelation as well, he refers to him as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev 5:5) Why? Because for John, the mission of Christ is all encompassing. It is not just the humble servant, the lamb that lays down his life for the sins of the world but he is also the fierce lion that defends his people against the powers of this world and the underworld.
However, the passage of the Gospel of today is John the Baptist’ formal introduction of Jesus to his disciples, and he prefered to use the title “Lamb of God.” This appellation made a great impress in the mind of John the Evangelist which will inform his conception of Christ throughout his writing.
What does this title “Lamb of God” signify in reference to Jesus?
In the Old Testament we can clearly identify two important moments when the lamb was used; one was real and the other was used in a metaphorical way.
The true lamb was the one instructed by God to be slaughtered on the preceding night of exodus. It is the lamb whose blood served as a sign of passover and liberation for the Hebrews.
The other lamb was the figurative lamb of prophet Isaiah. The prophet describes it as one taken to the slaughterhouse (Is 53:7). However there is something particular about this lamb which is different from the Exodus lamb. It is the lamb wounded for our rebellions, crushed because of our guilt; the lamb in whom the punishment reconciliation fell on, and through whose bruises we are healed…(Is 53:5).
John the Evangelist was aware of the contents of these two separate passages of the Old Testament, and he saw in Jesus a perfect description of both. So when he mentions Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, he does not just see in him the Passover lamb of Exodus but also the healing lamb of Isaiah. That is why on the holy hill of Calvary, at the very moment of piercing, John will be preoccupied with reminding his audience that Jesus is the true Lamb of God, a prefiguration of the Exodus lamb which God ordered that the bone should not be broken (Ex 12:46), and that is why he will report that the soldiers did not break the bone of Jesus but only pierced his side (Jn 19:33-36). And it is not a surprise that John is the only evangelist to use the Greek word τετέλεσται (tetelestai) meaning “It is finished” or “Paid in full.” Hence, this paid in full of John 19:30 refers to John 1:29 today; the Lamb that has finally paid in full for the sins of the world.

John the Baptist recognized Jesus and gave witness about him because he met him personally.
We know that distant lovers do not always find it easy to be consistent (I may be wrong anyway). In the same way, we cannot love Christ from a distance.To love him is to be drawn closer to him. We must know him personally, feel him present in our lives and experience him through the Word, the Sacraments, prayers and even through our brothers and sisters especially the suffering. It is only when we have a lived experience of Christ that we can be able to share his Good News to others: “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Jesus our Lamb has not stopped bleeding. It is necessary that he keeps bleeding so that our wounds may be healed (Is 53:5). He must keep bleeding so that you and I may receive a “supernatural transfusion” in order to live. This is the Lamb of the Eucharist whose blood we consume in order to have life. We must recognize that he bleeds for our sake. And for us to receive the healing due for our diseases especially the disease that attack our soul (sin) we must accept that we are sick. Saint Ignatius of Antioch says that this type of disease called sin has only one doctor; Christ our Lord.
If we want to understand what John says about Jesus the Lamb, then we must never stop looking at the Cross. There we see a wounded Lamb, a skinned Lamb, and a rejected Lamb who does not have external beauty anymore (Is 53: 2) yet we know his beauty lies within our soul, and we feel the warmth of his love in our lives. So when we feel wounded, skinned, rejected, hungry, naked, poor, and frustrated by life, please let us find strength in the Lamb hanging there for us. He first experienced whatever we may be experiencing now, and he understands it all.

Lord Jesus, help us to be the humble lamb you have become for our sake so that the sin of pride may be healed in our lives. Amen.


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