The Lamb of God

Reflection on the readings for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time — USCCB (NAB) Reference  The selected OCIA theme of the day is that of Vocation.  Sharing some of the reflecting and note taking I did in preparation for OCIA.

In the first reading, we have Samuel who was called by God in his youth.  Samuel is evidence that we often don’t recognize the voice of God.   In the verses of I Samuel, chapter 3, prior to the selected reading, we are told that Samuel was a minister to the Lord.  The sons of Eli were priests in the temple.  Verse 3 says, “The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was…”  This was his place when he hears the voice of God — something that had not happened in a long time.  God does call Samuel three times before Eli informs his son that it is the Lord calling and how to respond.  Samuel does respond and becomes a prophet for the, “Lord was with him not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” I Sam 3:19  I can’t help but think of our own Tabernacle — the place where our consecrated hosts are reserved — and our own burning sanctuary lamp announcing the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle.  I also think of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, where the consecrated host is exposed in the monstrance.  This is a wonderful place to hear God speaking to us.  Samuel found his vocation — his purpose — while keeping vigil in the temple.  We too can find purpose through quiet time and prayer before the presence of Jesus.

The second reading pleads with us to understand that our bodies are members of Christ.  We are to see ourselves as a temple of the Holy Spirit.  When you think about it, God has gone to great trouble to bring his divine son into the world.  On December 8th, we celebrated the Immaculate Conception — Mary conceived without sin.  From the beginning of Genesis — the fall in the garden — God was making plans.  Throughout salvation history, God has gone to great trouble to bring his sinless son to us.  Mary’s vocation was a simple “Yes” to God.  The Church too has gone to great trouble to bring us Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine.  At the first Mass I ever attended, one of the things that impressed and awed me was the reverence in which the altar was prepared — the careful placing of each cup, each linen, the “plate” I now know as the paten.  I looked up “Sacred Vessels” on the USCCB web site and yes — the Church goes to great trouble to assure the appropriateness of the vessels that contain the precious Body and Blood of our Lord.  Two articles state, “Among the requisites for the celebration of Mass, the sacred vessels are held in special honor, especially the chalice and paten, in which the bread and wine are offered and consecrated, and from which they are consumed. (327.)  Sacred vessels are to be made from precious metal.  If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, then ordinarily they should be gilded on the inside. (328)”  The specifications go on for another six points.  Are we not more precious than the finest gold?  This reading tells us that, “the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord…”   We have been purchased at a great, great price — Jesus’ death on the cross.  When we process forward to receive the body and blood of our Lord, we are a vessel of great price.  God has gone to great trouble and the Church has gone to great trouble — shouldn’t each of us go to great trouble to prepare our own temple of the Holy Spirit. 

The gospel reading is one of my favorites.  On the 3rd Sunday of Advent, we read the beginning of this chapter.  The beginning tells of John the Baptist and how he has come to “testify of the light that is to come.”  He has to deny being the messiah and isn’t worthy to untie the sandals of the one who is to come.  I would’ve loved to have been there when John suddenly pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”  No evidence is given in John’s Gospel of John the Baptists’ relationship to Jesus as a cousin.  We sort of know that Jesus was born and John the Baptist was about 6 months older.  Jesus was twelve at the temple teaching — then — ta da — he is 30 years old and ready to begin his ministry.  Did Jesus and John see each other at family reunions?  What is not known about these years can be as intriguing as the information we do know.  The focus of this teaching is that the two disciples heard John’s message and followed Jesus.  As members of the body of Christ, we have something to share with others.  It is a vocation, a purpose, to spread the Good News of Jesus — invite others to come to our Table.  “The Lamb of God” is heard in two important parts of the Mass.  At the first Mass I ever attended, I began crying when I heard, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us….Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us….Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace…” and everyone knelt.  Shortly thereafter the priest raises the host and says “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Happy are those who are called to his supper.”  Indeed I am very happy.

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