2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B ON JANUARY 17, 2021 (R. 1: 1 Samuel 3: 3b- 10, 19; Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7- 8, 8- 9, 10; R. 2: 1 Corinthians 6: 13c- 15a, 17- 20; Gospel: John 1: 35- 42)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD!
In the Book of Genesis, Abraham was a faithful servant of God. In his old age, God blessed him and his wife Sara with their only son, Isaac. While Isaac was still very young, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to him. This came after God had promised to bless Abraham with so many descendants through Isaac that will be impossible to count. Abraham obeyed without questioning the rationale behind this demand from God. On their way to the place of sacrifice, the young Isaac, probably became suspicious, and so he asked his father, “Where is the Lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham replied, “God will provide himself with a lamb for the sacrifice, my son.” When they arrived at the place of the sacrifice, Abraham bound his son, Isaac and he raised his knife to slaughter the boy. An angel of God then appeared and stopped him. The angel showed Abraham a lamb that was hanging on a tree, and instructed him to sacrifice the lamb in place of Isaac. The young Isaac questioned his father, “Where is the Lamb?” His father replied, “God will provide…” The perfect answer to that question comes from John the Baptist in today’s Gospel passage when he pointed to Jesus and said, “This is the Lamb of God,” the same words the priest says at Mass before the reception of Holy Communion. In Genesis, the angel pointed to a lamb that was hanging on a tree as a replacement for Isaac to be offered as sacrifice. But that lamb was only to foreshadow the true Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who will hang on the tree (cross) to take away our sins and to die in place of us. Abraham said, “God will provide” and God has truly provided his Only Begotten Son.
John the Baptist comes across today as a monstrance. Monstrance is that liturgical vessel, “an open or transparent receptacle in which the consecrated Host is exposed for veneration” and benediction. It is used to show Jesus to the people. The name originally comes from the Latin verb monstrare,which means “to show.” John the Baptist plays that role in today’s Gospel passage by pointing to Jesus and saying to his audience, “Behold the Lamb of God.” His followers in turn having experienced Jesus, became Monstrance by showing Jesus to others. Andrew showed him to his brother Peter, while Philip will show him to Nathanael and so on. That is how it has gotten to us. But the baton must not stop with us, we must be ready to each become a monstrance to show Jesus to others. It is like when you come across a nice post on Facebook, you read/admire, you like, you comment, and you share. So we are called today to look at Jesus, “like” “comment” and “share.”
But just like on social media, those who are reasonable and responsible do not share everything that they see. There is the News and there is fake news. Reasonable people do not share fake news, they do not share news that encourage divisiveness and cause more troubles in the world. They share news that bring solutions to problems. This responsibility requires of us to take time to reflect, and be very attentive because many times, the fake can mimic the original. That is why before becoming a monstrance, John the Baptist prepared himself, he withdrew from the world into the desert, he was vigilant, and he spent his life watching for the coming of Jesus. He prepared himself to identify the Lamb of God as different from all other Lambs. To be able to look at the Lamb, we must be willing to look away from past attachments, enticements and comforts. Samuel also received his call in today’s first reading to share God’s message with God’s people. Samuel had three missed calls because he was picking the wrong phone. The first time he heard the call, he presumed he knew who was calling, and so he went to Eli. After doing this for three times, Eli being his spiritual director realized who was calling, he then told the boy to pick the right phone, he told the boy that when he hears the call again he should say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” From that point, Samuel became another monstrance directing people to God. The discipline to listen keeps eluding us; it is becoming more and more difficult to listen. Everybody is talking and no one seems to be listening. Even the one who is talking does not seem to listen to himself/herself, and so there is no communication going on, just noise all around.
Our calling is a very noble one. Paul describes us as members of Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit. From John the Baptist, we learn to be monstrance so as to show Christ to the world. Purity is a necessary condition for us to be able to carry out this noble task. Let us pray to God to grant us the grace to look away from distractions so as to look at and look like Christ the Lamb of God; the grace to have the humility and open ears to listen and the courage to share what we have received with the world, through Christ our Lord. Amen.