I want you all to close your eyes (well just squint them cause you can’t read if they are closed). I want you to use your imagination to try to build the scene. First imagine yourself by the River Jordan. You are there with plenty of other people. Some are older but there are plenty of young people there. Imagine a very thin but strong looking man standing by the waters of the Jordan. That is John the Baptist and you have been following him for months now listening to his preaching. You have been baptized with him, washed ritually cleaned. You respect him highly and think that he will help you find the answers to life that you have been looking for. Why am I here…what is my purpose…how do I become a better person.
Now let me read the passage from this Sunday’s readings:
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (The same words we hear at the Mass now. As he says that you smell a combination of a slaughterhouse and a BBQ Resturant, and you know that is the smell of the sacrifices happening at the Temple of Israel.)
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 heaven
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.”
What would you do if that was what you saw? What would you think of Jesus? How would your life change from that moment?
In our modern times, we think of Lambs as what? (Weak, Mild, Soft, etc…) But for those that lived that scene they would have remembered the smell of the sacrifice and would have known that a lamb was used to sacrifice to God. To bring us closer to God.
Sacrifice is something that is not fully understood in our current world. We have a society that teaches to look out for oneself before looking out for anyone else. It is those that have the most money, the nicest cars, and the biggest houses that are held to high esteem. We live in a society that thinks if we try hard enough we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and overcome anything, even sin.
Yet the Hebrews know that we do nothing on our own. That everything we get is a gift from God. That all the food, cattle, and money we have is given by God in our care. They would sacrifice the first fruits and the first born of their cattle to God, not because he needed it, but because it reminded them of where these items came from. That they wanted to return to God some of what was given to them as a sign of thanksgiving.
In the same way, they knew that their sin destroyed the relationship they had with God. They would offer their best to God as a sign of repentance, of reparations, of justice, of wanting to be fix the relationship with God. Those things didn’t benefit God at all but they did benefit those that gave. It was a physical sign of what could not be seen, the repentance they held in their heart.
So why does John call Jesus the Lamb of God? Because Jesus comes as the final sacrifice for all our sins. That through his sacrifice man will finally be able to be in full communion with God. He provides the perfect sacrifice to finally deal with the sins of humanity, so that they can truly have a full and total relationship with God.
To this day we continue to make present that sacrifice Jesus made through the Mass. Through the Mass we offer up our prayers and wants to come into communion with God and with Jesus. To fix our relationship with God.
As Christians we are called to be like Christ, to be little Christs. It is why we are asked to be sacrificial in our nature. That we are asked to do things like giving of our free time on our days off to help feed the poor, like this Friday as we cook the soups. It is why you the teens come together to hold the Senior Prom. It becomes a sacrifice of our time and talent to provide a night for the seniors of our parish and to help those of us here that can’t afford to go on the Summer Retreat. It is why we sacrifice our time now here at Joy and Devotion so that we can become closer to God.
It is why we come to Mass every Sunday, God doesn’t need us at the Mass but through the Mass and through our worship we share with God and give thanks to God for all he has done for us. So, as you go through this week try living as a lamb and sacrifice for God.