2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A ON JANUARY 19, 2020 (R. 1: Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; R. 2: 1 Corinthians 1: 1-3; Gospel: John 1: 29-34)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
SUCH A MONSTRANCE!
A seven-year-old boy was hanging around a coffee and donuts shop one morning. He had not eaten any food in two days. He prayed to God to give him something to eat. Shortly after his prayer, a lady noticed him and asked why he was hanging around idly. He explained to her that he had not eaten any food in two days. The lady bought him some donuts and apple juice; she also gave him some money for his other needs. After his first bite of the donuts and first sip of the juice, he turned to the lady and asked, “Are you God?” She smiled and said, “No, I am not God, but I am a  daughter of God.” The boy nodded and said, “I knew it! I thought that it is either you are God or one His relatives.”
Could someone remind us of the name of this sacred vessel that I am holding in my hands? Great! It is called a “monstrance.” Does the name remind you of any Spanish word? It sounds like the Spanish verb mostrar, which means “to show.” It comes from the Latin verb monstrare, which means “to show.” From that root, we also have the word “demonstrate,” which means “to clearly show the truth or existence of something.” From this etymology, it is now easier to remember the function of a monstrance. A monstrance is a sacred vessel that is used to show or to expose the Most Blessed Sacrament for adoration and benediction.
In today’s Gospel passage, we meet a human monstrance. He is John the Baptist. Today’s Gospel passage begins by saying, “John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’” Isn’t that what the monstrance does? When we walk into a Church, we see that golden vessel, and at the center of it, it says, “This is Jesus Christ, your Lord, and your God, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, come let us adore Him!”
What are some of the qualities of John the Baptist that qualify him for the title of a Monstrance? Firstly, like a monstrance, he demonstrated or showed Jesus to the crowd when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” Secondly, he knew his purpose in life and lived by it. He said, “…the reason why I came baptizing with water was that [Jesus] might be made known to Israel.” Similarly, the beauty of the monstrance is meant to call our attention to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Thirdly, his humility and sincerity. Before Jesus appeared, John prepared the people’s minds by telling them that he is not the Messiah. He added that the one coming after him is greater than him and that he is not fit to untie the straps of the sandals of Jesus. Just like the monstrance, no matter the amount of gold it is made of, it cannot be more important than the consecrated host it carries. Empty of Jesus, we pass by it without bowing, kneeling, or genuflecting. But the moment Jesus is in it, we begin to worship. The greatness of John the Baptist comes from Jesus, who he shows to the world.
As Catholic Christians, each one of us is also called to be a monstrance. We carry Jesus inside of us like the monstrance; as such, the lives we live should always re-echo the words of John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” As patients in the hospital, in our encounters with our caregivers, and as doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, through the way we relate with our patients, people should wonder about us, “This must be God or one of His relatives.” 
At the end of the Mass, when the deacon or the priest says, “Go forth, the Mass is ended,” we respond, “Thanks be to God.” We are not saying, “Oh, thank God, this is finally over; let’s get out of here.” We are thanking God for the awesome gifts and blessings we have received. We are thanking God for the great privilege of carrying Jesus inside of us, and we are accepting the responsibility of going into the world to show Jesus to the world. At Mass, we are blessed to bless; we are given to give. Our disposition at the end of Mass should be, “I can’t wait to go home and forgive my husband/wife just like Jesus has forgiven me; I can’t wait to get out there and help those who are not as privileged as I am; I can’t wait to go spread the love of God in the world.” Yes! “And they will know we are Christians by our love.”
One Monday morning, during rush hour, the traffic light turned red, and a young lady was the first on her lane. When the light turned green, she was busy texting on her cell phone without noticing the green light. Before she noticed the light, it was back to red. The young man in a truck behind her began to honk, to curse, to give her the middle finger through the window, etc. Then a police officer showed up and arrested him. He kept protesting all the way that he had done nothing wrong, that the lady who was texting at the traffic light should have been the one under arrest. The officer said nothing; he detained him for about two hours in handcuffs. When he was finally set free, he said he would not go until he is told why he was arrested. The officer said, “Do you want to know?” He said, “Yes, if not, I won’t leave here.” The officer went on, “At first you did nothing wrong. But I was right behind your truck; I noticed the rosary beads hanging on the inside rearview mirror of your truck, I noticed the bumper sticker of ‘40 days for life,’ a sticker of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the logo of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and your license plate, which reads, “I LOVE JESUS.” Then, when I saw you honking, cursing, and giving the middle finger, I said to myself, “This truck must have been stolen.”
My dearly beloved in Christ, you are a monstrance, I am a monstrance; the world is watching! Let us go out and show the true image of Jesus Christ to the world.   

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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