Lamb of God 15TH JANUARY, 2017
With the celebration of the Baptism of the lord last week Monday, we end the Season of Christmas and we now enter into the first phase of the season of Ordinary Time which is known as Ordinary Time I. From this period before the Season of Lent, the liturgical colour to be used will be green unless the day in question is dedicated to celebrating a Saint or an event.
The book of the Prophet Isaiah can be divided into three sections: Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1-39); Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40-55) and Trito-Isaiah (56-66).
The first section focuses on scathing denunciations and pronouncements as the Prophet calls Judah, Israel and other surrounding nations to repent of their sins.
The second section usually opens with the words of “Comfort, give comfort to my people” and for this reason, it has come to be known as the Book of the consolation of Isaiah. The message of this section is one of consolation for an oppressed people languishing in exile in Babylon.
We can identify four unique poems which are commonly referred to as the Songs of the Servant of the Lord: 42:19; 49:1-6: 50:4-11 and 52:13-53:12. These poems describe a perfect servant of God who is destined to bring back the scattered people to be “light to the nations, to expiate the sins of the people by his death and to be glorified by God.”
The third section belongs to the period after the exile and comes from a prophet in the same tradition as Proto-Isaiah and Deutero-Isaiah whose spirit and religious outlook he had inherited, but for a new situation. The prophet tries to revive the hope of the people for the future, but also to introduce a purer and more spiritual form of religion not based on the externals.
The first reading of today (Isaiah 49:3, 5-6) can be understood within the context of the second section of Isaiah. We are presented with one of the four Songs of the Servant of the Lord in which God chose for His mission of salvation a servant who sought neither glory nor power.
The reading emphasizes two elements in the calling of the servant: The call is from God (it is the Lord Himself who willingly extends this invitation to others) and the person who is called is to carry out a mission to benefit others (it is not a self-glorification mission, but for the welfare of other people). The Lord expresses His love for Israel, indicating that through her (Israel), the Lord would be glorified. Through Israel, the grace of God would shine forth worldwide.
Like this servant, every member of the Community of faith has a vocation. We are all invited to identify our calling, to be a light for others and to bring salvation to others.
In the second reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-3), St. Paul tells us that every Christian is called and has a vocation. St. Paul presents himself as “appointed by God.” He bases his authority on the personal call that he receives from God. He tells the Church of Corinth that because he has been called by God to speak to them, his words will owe nothing to human wisdom but to God who has sent him.
The Gospel reading (John 1:29-34) tells us that our vocation continues the vocation of Jesus, whom John the Baptist calls the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world.
At every Eucharistic celebration, we proclaim this character of Jesus. As the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, there are three qualities we can deduce: gentleness, sacrifice and triumph.
The lamb is a symbol of gentleness:
The lamb is a gentle and harmless animal. It is so innocent that it will even lick the hand that is raised to slaughter it. Jesus is a gentle and a humble person. He once said that “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29). If Jesus, who is our master is gentle and humble, why not imitate His gentility and humility in our calling as people of God?
The lamb is an animal of sacrifice:
As the son of a Priest (Zechariah), John would know all the rituals of the Temple and its sacrifices. Every morning and evening, a lamb was sacrificed in the Temple for the sins of the people (Exodus39: 38-42). So long as the Temple stood, this daily sacrifice was made. Even when the people were starving in war and siege, they never omitted to offer the lamb until in A.D. 70 when the Temple was destroyed. It might be that John is saying: “In the Temple a lamb is offered every morning and evening for the sins of the people, but in this Jesus is the only sacrifice which can deliver men from sins.
The lamb is a symbol of triumph:
When Jesus is called the Lamb of God, it confirms the fact of His triumph. This triumphant lamb is the one who leads the flock of God, he delivers them from their foes and he rules them in the kingdom of God. The symbol of triumph which is associated with the lamb was evident in the lives of the following biblical personalities: Judas Maccabeus, Samuel, David and Solomon.
Have a spirit-filled week with God’s blessings.
BY: REV. FR. ELVIS MENSAH