Homily for the second Sunday in the year

Year A  -  John 1:29-34


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"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:


"John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, «Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!»"

This Sunday's gospel is dedicated entirely to the words of John the Baptist:  the very words of the Precursor of Jesus are what the Church proposes to us today!  "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  We know these words, for the Church makes use of them herself in speaking to the People of God, the new Israel, when believers are about to receive the Body and Blood of Christ during the eucharistic celebration.  "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Why does the Church make use of these words, rather than others?  The answer is simple:  there is a relation of suitability between Jesus-Eucharist and Jesus-Lamb.  Indeed, under both these signs, Jesus seems to be lacking a rational and spiritual soul.  Under the signs of bread and wine, Jesus makes himself present under the sign of a corporeal food:  while he retains his spiritual soul, it is as if Jesus were reduced to possessing only a simple body.  Similarly, when the Church, following John the Baptist, calls Jesus the Lamb of God, it is as if God, in Jesus, while retaining his spiritual divinity, were reduced to possessing, in Jesus, only a simple corporeal dimension.

"«This is he of whom I said, `After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.'»"

John the Baptist is full of these contrasts!  We have just seen this to be the case, when he designated Jesus as the Lamb of God:  he designates the spiritual Being by making reference to a corporeal animal!  He will also say, speaking of Christ:  "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)  Is this not the model for our life?  Must we not place Jesus ahead of us?  Must we not decrease in order that Jesus may increase in us?  Must we not set aside our judgement and intellect when we proclaim our faith in the Eucharist?  For what we see and what we taste is only bread and wine, and yet it is truly the entire Jesus whom we receive within us:  his body, his soul, his divinity!

"«I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.»"

John the Baptist shows us the path to follow:  he accomplishes the mission which was entrusted to him without even truly knowing who Jesus is!  John the Baptist believes in the Messiah who was to come and that is enough for him!  His faith is what enables him to fulfill his mission.  And his faith compels him to be the instrument of Christ, the mediator through whom the Messiah will be revealed to Israel:  "For this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel."  This is our entire mission during our life on earth:  to be the witnesses of Christ, Savior of mankind!  If we want to go to Heaven, and avoid hell, then we must not hesitate:  like John the Baptist, let us tell all the men and women in the world that Jesus is the Lamb of God!  And most of all, let us render honor and glory to Jesus-Eucharist:  let us testify to our faith in the living God!

"«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.»"

The mission of John the Baptist is very special:  that mission is his own, and is a prophetic mission.  God spoke to him!  "He who sent me to baptize with water said to me."  It is God who told him to baptize with water!  But John the Baptist is, nonetheless, the model of the Church, because the Church is also a prophet:  "The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name."  (Second Council of Vatican, Lumen Gentium, no. 12)  Indeed, the prophet is he who transmits to the people of God the words which are spoken to him by the Lord, or who accomplishes concretely what God orders him to do.

Let us ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary to help us to follow her divine Son, at all times and in all places.  May She help us to attain the victory of faith by accomplishing the mission which God entrusted to his Church!  May the Lamb of God, through Mary, fortify us to fight the good fight of faith!