2nd Sunday of OT A

Lamb of God

Joke: Before performing a baptism, the priest approached the young father and said solemnly, "Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?" "I think so," the man replied. "My wife has made appetizers, and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests." "I don't mean that," the priest responded. "I mean, are you prepared spiritually?" "Oh, sure," came the reply. "I've got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey."

Last weekend, the Church celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ to conclude our Christmas Season. In the scene of Jesus’ baptism, Matthew portrayed a picture of Spirit of the Lord descending from heaven like a dove rested on Jesus after he came out of water at the Jordan river, and a voice from heaven testified that Jesus is the Son of God saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew emphasized Jesus’ baptism is to sanctify the water to wash away our original sin, and in Jesus’ baptism, unlike the baptism that John the Baptist performed with water only, there appeared three Persons present at Jesus’ baptism: The Father, the Voice from heaven, the Holy Spirit like a Dove, and the Son who is Jesus himself. This is exactly why, in our own baptism, there are always water pours on our head in the Trinity formula saying, “I baptize you,” as the priest or deacon says while pouring the holy water, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Baptism will be invalid when there is no water and not using the Trinity formula. In today’s Gospel, John portrayed Jesus as the Lamb of God saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” when Jesus came toward John for baptism. We might want to ask ourselves, why did John identify Jesus as the Lamb of God? How did Jesus take away the sin of the world?

William Barclay, a theologian and commentator of Scriptures once said, “There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why [we are born].” John the Baptist came into the existence was a great joy for the human race as Matthew reported the words of Jesus saying, “Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mt 11:11). The second great day in the life of John the Baptist was the day when he saw the Spirit of the Lord rested upon Jesus to testify that he was the Son of God. For this reason that John the Baptist was born into the existence to be the voice in the desert calling for repentance for the coming of the Lord. The great day came when he saw the Spirit of the Lord rested upon Jesus. His whole life focused on this great day, the second day.

Not only to see the Spirit rested upon Jesus and to testify for it, but there is no less important to point out that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” described in today’s Gospel. The Lamb is a meek and good natured animal that is used by people for its fleece in order to make a warm coat, and his meat for a delicious meal. More than that, the lamb is an innocent animal. His innocence, perhaps, is a reason for a Jewish person to lay his or her hands on the lamb, symbolizing the transferring of all of his or her sins on the lamb before they killed the lamb or released him to the desert. This is how one gets rid of one’s sins. John points out that Jesus is the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. It is true that on the hill of Golgotha, Jesus brought all our sins and nailed them on the cross with him.

Just as John testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, how should we live our Christian lives in order to point out to others that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world? Just as John the Baptist humbled himself to introduce Jesus as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world, how would we live our Christian lives in order to introduce the Lamb of God to others? Just as Jesus died as a sacrificial lamb for the sake of our salvation, how should we sacrifice our Christian life for the sake of peace, happiness and joy to those we come into contact each day? His great sacrificial sacrifice on the cross based on his two great commandments: To love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love others as ourselves, have we loved each other as he has commanded us? As a perfect sacrifice pours out unconditionally in the Eucharist, have we actively participated in the offering of the Lamb of God in the Eucharistic celebration and sharing his divine life by receiving his Body and his Blood every time we participate in the Mass?

Just as Isaiah points out in today’s first reading that God will make his servant, Israel, becomes the light to the nations saying, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” are we the light to all the nations when we called ourselves Christians, the children of God by the virtue of our baptism? Just as Paul, in today’s second reading, encourages the Corinthian community saying, “To you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy,” how should we live our Christian lives in order to be called holy in the eyes of God and with one another? Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world to nail on the cross for the sake of our salvation, we are invited to leave sins behind, to learn to be holy in our words and in our deeds, and to actively and regularly participate in the Mass to share the Divine life each time we come up to receive Communion at Mass. Are you ready to share the Lamb of God in the Eucharist and to testify just as John the Baptist testified that Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Decision is yours.



Weekend Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Nguyen

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