Homily on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Behold, the Lamb of God (Jn 1:36)
The proclamation of John the Baptist in the Gospel today should be familiar to our ears because during the Communion Rite at Mass, the threefold “Lamb of God” was sung at the “breaking of the bread.” Then the priest, after genuflecting to the Blessed Sacrament, takes the host and holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people saying aloud: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” The congregation responds: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” The response echoes the centurion addressing Jesus when he invited the Lord to cure his servant: “I am not worthy to have you under my roof . . . but say the word and let my servant be healed (Lk 7:6-7). Let us focus on the proclamation the “Lamb of God” and the gift of healing.
The meaning of Jesus, the “Lamb of God” was given at the crucifixion in the Gospel of John: Since the bodies of those who were crucified might not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, “the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken, and they be taken down. So, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus” (Jn 19:31-32). When they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. One soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately “blood and water flowed out” (Jn. 19:34). Blood and water flow out from the side of Jesus during the time when the Israelites slaughter the lamb for their Passover meal. With this timing, the evangelist declared that Jesus is truly the Lamb of God. This interpretation is further supported by the quotation from the Old Testament: “Not a bone of it will be broken.” This is part of Moses’ instructions to Israelites on how to prepare and eat the lamb for the Passover meal (Ex 12:46).
How can one receive the gift of healing through this proclamation of faith? What happened when Jesus expired on the Cross helps us make this connection. Just as the flesh of the lamb nourished the Israelites before they set out for a journey, and its blood on the door post freed them from death (Ex 12:21-23), the Body of Christ hung on the Cross, and His Blood poured out from his side now given to us in Holy Communion at Mass. “As we eat his flesh that was sacrificed for us, we are made strong, and as we drink his Blood that was poured out for us, we are washed clean” (See Preface I of the Most Holy Eucharist, Roman Missal, Third Edition).
In this context, I would like to explain how one can receive much healing from the Lord through Eucharistic Adoration. First, what is it? It is an extension of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which occurs in every Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament flows from the sacrifice of the Mass and serves to deepen our hunger for Communion with Christ. Whether it is a simple adoration, spending time acknowledging the Lord’s presence in the tabernacle of the Church or solemn Holy Hour guided by the Ritual of the Church with the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, we are looking upon Him who was pierced for our salvation (Jn 19:37).
Why is the practice of Eucharistic Adoration so important to us during this time? Recently, I found a flyer in front of a confessional of a parish in our diocese: “In the best of times, Adoration is an essential devotion recommended to all Catholics. In this season of pandemic, recession, political turmoil, and other sufferings, this is the time to turn to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament more than ever. In a special way, Adoration gives us the opportunity to intercede for our world, our parish, and ourselves. In Adoration, we make ourselves open to Christ’s peace and allow him to make us into the saints our community so desperately needs.” Yes, in Adoration we “behold the Lamb of God.” Jesus, in turn, will heal and transform us to be saints.