Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 1,29-34.
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “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.’
I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him.
I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
Peace to all my brothers and sisters listening in today
Baptism, Lambs, and the Eucharist.
- Baptism. We hear about Jesus’ baptism again this week because we are invited to reflect on the power and the importance of our own baptism. Just as Jesus’ identity and mission are revealed in the baptism so is ours. Baptism is in fact, as many saints and popes have attested, the most important sacrament, as it is the gateway to all of the rest. Like confirmation and ordination, baptism cleanses our soul and confers on it an indelible mark which ontologically changes us. That simply means that in our very being, our essence, we have been changed and now are incorporated into Christ. The change is so deep and permanent, we can never be unbaptized, or unconfirmed or unordained. This of course is a great mystery which we cannot explain but rather are invited to explore and allow to unpack in our lives. One of my favourite parts of baptism is the most ancient part which is called Ephphatha which in Aramaic means “be opened.” It is the moment the priest blesses the ears and the mouth of the baby. And every time I do it, I ask God to bless my ears, that I too might really hear the word of God, and to bless my mouth, that I too might really proclaim his good news. How do we open our ears to hear and open our eyes to see or open our mouth to proclaim his good news? The answer is the cross. We cannot be a follower of Christ or a disciple unless we are able to carry His cross.
- Lamb. John the Baptist proclaims the identity and mission of Jesus by proclaiming what we repeat at every mass when the priest holds up the Eucharist. “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Of all the titles of Jesus, which include Christ the King, The Omniscient, The Merciful One, The Son of Man etcetera, John chooses to call him “The Lamb of God” at the very beginning of his ministry. In order to appreciate and understand this title we need only look at the exist and how God saved and liberated the Hebrew people in Egypt. He did so of course by inviting them to sacrifice a lamb and place its blood over the door in order that death would pass over them. When his people were spared death and liberated from Egypt, he commanded them to remember it every year during the feast of Passover. Jesus in fact was a good Jew and was merely celebrating the feast of Passover when he did something amazing. He transformed it! He said you don’t need a lamb, I am the lamb of God and you don’t need its blood because I’m going to pour out my blood to save you not from slavery in Egypt, but a far worse evil, the slavery of sin.
- Eucharist. So, what is our response to this heroic, unselfish and self-sacrificing act? As baptized into his death and resurrection, we are called to be reminded of our own identity to continue his mission so that we don’t merely receive the Eucharist but rather, we are called to be the Eucharist. What does that mean? To be self-sacrificing disciples who are willing to lay down our lives for others
Today let us live more authentically the grace of our baptisms and offer our bodies as living sacrifices so that through our small sacrifices we might share and continue the mission of Christ to love others in a self-sacrificing and unselfish way.
May God bless you and the name of the Father and of the son and of the holy spirit
Always remember heaven is our goal