January 15, 2017
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 49:3, 5-6 PS 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10 1 COR 1:1-3 JN 1:29-34
“Behold the Lamb of God!”
So said John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, and so say our priests in the Consecration of every Mass. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – the scapegoat.
One of the best known Old Testament stories, and one that seems particularly cruel, is the story of Abraham and Isaac. God asks Abraham (really he just tells him) to kill his son Isaac and offer him up as an offering. At the last moment, Isaac is saved by the miraculous appearance of a ram caught in the bushes.
What seems like the ultimate in mind games and divine mental cruelty, a case of God asking the unimaginable of one who loves and serves Him, ends up being a foreshadowing of what is to come.
Generations later, there won’t be a miraculous sheep to bail out Jesus, and God makes it known well in advance. When John declares Jesus to be the Lamb of God, he not only is declaring Him to be humanity’s ultimate scapegoat, he’s designating Him as the Sacrifice.
Even more, his words bring Abraham’s test full-circle. It’s not a man being called to offer the death of his child, but God himself in the hot seat. What we too often overlook is the unspoken promise “no matter how hard the task I set before you, how impossible it seems, I ask nothing of you that I would not do myself.” Because we are not slaves, we are the Beloved.
photo credit: By Keven Law, Los Angeles, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons