Father Mark’s Pastoral Direction – The Lamb of God

The Lamb of God

The news on television and in the newspapers can often make for sad viewing. Storms, tales of increasing numbers of homeless families, deforestation and climate breakdown, refugees fleeing war and poverty, not to mention local stories of violence and social disintegration. The bad news we see and read in the media seem to shout to us: Look! Things are bad and they are only going to get worse. We might as well put up with it – that’s the way things are.

That is why the truths expressed in the Scripture readings for this Sunday are so very important and why they should be taken to heart. The words of Scripture are not mere stories about past events. They are not mere historical records. The scriptural word is not just a written word, it is a spoken word, a word that is proclaimed and a word that gives life.  It is a creative word that has become incarnate in human fleshly reality in Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Word of life. It is the language of the continuous present because God continues to speak to our hearts through the readings, the homily and the Prayers of the Faithful. When we celebrate the Liturgy of the Word during the Mass, Jesus has a word to say to each one of us about life and hope and beauty and truth.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist is inviting us to look at Jesus. He calls
Jesus the ‘lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’. We say these words
often at Mass and today we are invited to meditate on them more closely. What does
it mean? In Jesus’ time, two lambs were sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem each
day. It was a ritual that invoked purity. Jesus will preach a love that is radical for
many, in a world that was, and still is, broken. John refers to Jesus as the lamb as he knows that if one loves in such a way, they will suffer at the hands of unjust systems and institutions.

When we look at the ‘sins’ of our world today – broken relationships, crisis, can we also see those who, like Jesus, ‘take away’ the sins of the world? Christ’s love was not passive, he actively challenged systems that were oppressive and which prevented people from living life to the full. Whether it be the climate crisis or the homelessness crisis or any number of issues we face, ‘look’ where Jesus walks and is actively working to ease this suffering. When we hear these words at Mass, let us be reminded of all those who sacrifice much to ease the sufferings of others. This is Christ, the ‘lamb of God’ active in our world today.

‘The descent into the waters of our spirit, is a journey into the presence of divinity … all human beings are children of God but not all live in the awareness that there is ‘that of God’ within them’                   W. L. Wallace

John is one who directs people to Jesus as the one who had a life-giving message for them. Who have been the people in our lives whose example or advice pointed us in the direction of a fuller life? Who has helped us to appreciate the importance of Jesus and his message?

In the narrative, John recognized that Jesus had more to offer people than he himself had. John had the humility not to need to be the star of the show. Who have we known with that grounded sense of their own place?

John proclaims Jesus as one who takes away the sin of the world. Who have been the people who, for us, continued this mission of Jesus and led us from sin and guilt to forgiveness and freedom?  For whom have we done this?

It was not just on the cross that Jesus gave his life as the Lamb of God. His public ministry was a constant struggle against injustice and oppression. When have we shared in this mission of Jesus? Who have been models of this for us?

Father Mark