2nd Sunday OTA
Is 49. 3: 5-6; I Cor 1: 1-3; Jn 1: 29-34
A policeman in the big city stops a man in a car with a sheep in the front seat. “What are you doing with that sheep?” He exclaimed, “You should take it to the zoo.” The following week, the same policeman sees the same man with the sheep again in the front seat, with both of them wearing sunglasses. The policeman pulls him over. “I thought you were going to take that sheep to the zoo!” The man replied, “I did. We had such a good time we are going to the beach this weekend!”
Most of you are familiar with the children’ rimes Mary had a little lamb. Now the new one is MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB. Her father shot it dead. Now it goes to school with her; Between two hunks of bread.
Dear Friends! The central theme of today’s readings is a challenge to live like the Lamb of God and to die like the Lamb of God. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the “Lamb of God”. “Lamb of God” is the most meaningful title given to Jesus in the Bible. It is used 29 times in the book of Revelation. It sums up the love, the sacrifice and the triumph of Christ. Jewish listeners probably understood the meaning when John introduced Jesus as the “Lamb of God”.
1) The Lamb of Atonement (Lev. 16: 20-22). A lamb was brought to the Temple on the Day of Atonement. Placing his hands over its head, the high priest transferred all the sins of his people on it. It was then sent into the forest to be killed by some wild animal. 2) The Lamb of Daily Atonement (Ex. 29: 38-42; Numbers 28: 1-8). This was the lamb sacrificed on the “Black Altar” of the Temple every morning and evening to atone for the sins of the Jews.
3) The Paschal Lamb (Ex. 12: 11ss), whose blood saved the first born of the Jewish families in Egypt from the Angel of destruction.” This lamb reminded them also of the Paschal Lamb which they killed every year on the Passover Feast. 4) The Lamb of the Prophets which portrayed One who, by His sacrifice, will redeem his people: “The gentle lamb led to the slaughter house” (Jer. 11: 19), “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7). Both refer to the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ.
Both John the Baptist and John the Evangelist want us to understand that God has done a new thing for us in Jesus. There is a totally new way of relating to God in Jesus. Now the way to the Father is through Jesus. All the ceremonies and sacrifices of the Old Testament have come to an end. Now Jesus is our way to the Father. Just as the lamb’s blood spared the Hebrews before they left Egypt so now it is the blood of Jesus that saves us from our sins. Therefore John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
In every Mass as we near the time for Holy Communion we call on the Lamb of God three times, twice to take away our sins and a third time to grant us peace. In response the priest raises the host and says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we see the liturgy of heaven and Jesus in heaven is called the Lamb. So when we call Jesus the Lamb of God during Mass it reminds us that we have heaven on earth. Jesus says to us, “This is my Body which will be given up for you”, “This is the cup of my blood…It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.” Happy are we who are called to his supper.
Let our prayer be for today then, Jesus, Lamb of God, we thank you for dying for us and shedding your blood to take away our sins. May we live as your faithful followers. Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.