Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1: 29)
The above proclamation of John the Baptist in the Gospel is a familiar message. It is familiar because at every Mass, before Holy Communion, the congregation sings: “Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us . . . grant us peace.” Then the priest elevates the host above the paten or chalice while facing the people saying: “Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those are called to the supper of the Lamb.” On this occasion, let us reflect on this proclamation of the Baptist:
The Lamb of God! This refers to the victorious apocalyptic lamb destroying evil in the world (Rev 5–7; 17:14). The Lamb of God was prefigured in the lamb which was an essential part of the account of the Passover, when its blood on the doorposts preserved the homes of the Hebrews as the family shared in a meal (Ex 12:7). Finally, the title refers to the suffering servant, who said in the first reading today “the LORD . . . formed me as his servant from the womb” (Is 49:5) and this servant was led like a lamb to slaughter as a sin-offering (Is 53:7, 10). In the context of the liturgical celebration, let’s look deeper into the Baptist’s proclamation, the saving power of the Blood of the Lamb.
If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of tis prefiguration in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, commanded Moses, and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not a figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ(St. John Chrysostom, Cat 3:13-19; SC 50, 174-177).
No wonder St. Paul, in the second reading today, introduced himself to the Corinthians and called them holy: “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:1-3).
Christians in Corinth were made holy by the Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. Now, in every Eucharistic celebration with Blood of the Lamb on our lips, we are church – holy and chosen by the Lord to be his servants.