Homily for the second Sunday of the year - Year A - Jn. 1:29-34


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, "After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me." I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.' And John bore witness, 'I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.' "





Homily:


"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"


At present we are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Therefore, this Sunday celebration will be centered on this essential aspect of the Church: her unity. For there is but a single Church of Christ, as we profess each Sunday in the Creed: "I believe in one ... Church." If we look at things in a wholly spiritual manner, which is appropriate when one speaks of religion, it is easy to say and believe that all Christians, no matter which, are united to each other: the Holy Spirit, who rests upon Christ, realizes their unity with each other, for the Glory of the Father!


But, in the light of the Spirit of Christ, Saint Paul, whose miraculous conversion we will celebrate in a few days, referred to the Church as the "Body of Christ" (cf. 1 Cor. 12:27). This notion of the Body is truly mysterious, so much so that one generally speaks of the "Mystical Body of Christ". The Mystery lies in the fact that it is a reality that belongs to both the natural and the supernatural order. The Mystical Body of Christ - the Church - is the union of all men and women who believe in Christ, who hope in Him, and who love Him above all else. Now, this supernatural union of believers is founded entirely upon a fact: the Resurrection of Christ; and, similarly, this union must lead to another fact: the Resurrection of each member of the Body of Christ.


Seen in the light of the Resurrection, the unity of Christians, although spiritual, is tinted with a complementary coloration: that which emanates from the corporeal Resurrection of the Lord and of the elect of God. The unity of Christians, for it to be real, must therefore be spiritual and invisible as well as corporeal and visible. It is this corporeal dimension that the Holy Spirit wished to manifest when he inspired Saint John the Baptist, who declared: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn. 1:29) The Lord Jesus is referred to by John the Baptist as a lamb - that is, a non-spiritual being, one that is wholly corporeal. Of course, there is here an allusion to the Prophet Isaiah (Is. 53:7), but the Book of the Apocalypse will definitively consecrate the sign of the Lamb (cf., among others, Rev. 21:22).


But the Eucharistic liturgy has solemnly consecrated the words of John the Baptist, who announced the Messiah to Israel: "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His supper." These are the words that the priest pronounces before communion. The first sentence is taken from this Sunday's Gospel; and the second: "Happy are those who are called to His supper" comes from the Book of the Apocalypse (19:9). This shows us how important this notion is: the Lamb of God! It reveals the Lord in his Body, it announces to all the faithful the presence of the Body of Christ: the Eucharist! But even this proclamation itself is prepared for by a very ancient chant, one that is sung during the breaking of the bread: "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world..." "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi..."


"This is he of whom I said, "After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me." I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.' And John bore witness, 'I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.' "


John the Baptist bears witness to Jesus: he expresses his faith in the Son of God made man! The Church, after him, also bears witness to the Savior of men: she expresses her faith in the real presence of the Son of God in the Eucharist! "Behold, the Lamb of God!" says John the Baptist, indicating the man called Jesus. "Behold, the Lamb of God!" says the Church, indicating the bread and wine consecrated into the Body and Blood of Christ. Believing and bearing witness: this is what God expects of us as Christians! But what more beautiful witness can we offer to God than that of our unity? Did Jesus not say to his Father, on the day before his death: "Father, may they also be one in us, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me." (Jn. 17:21)?


This prayer of Jesus is still current, today we can still make it our own! Let us endeavor to unite ourselves with the Lord Jesus and with his Spirit, in order that we might all form but a single Body of Christ! Let each and every one of us be John the Baptist! Let us testify to our faith, our hope, our charity! Let us firmly believe in Jesus-Eucharist! Let us ask Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who has always formed but a single Body with her Son, to make us true witnesses to Christ and his Church, for the Salvation and the eternal Resurrection of the world!



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