Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oh, What A Savior!

January 20, 2008 Year A

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflections on the Readings

By Dennis Hankins

Is 49:3, 5-6; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

1 Cor 1:1-3; Jn 1:29-34

Theme:  Oh, What A Savior!

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

If this Sunday's Gospel seems like a rerun from last week, you would be right.  Last Sunday was the Baptism of our Lord.  And the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time always repeats this theme. For us it is emphasized that John's baptizing with water was to reveal Christ to Israel and to us. Twice in today's Gospel John says, "I myself did not know him."  But John is not totally clueless for he says, "But he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' So it is the mission of John's ministry of water baptism to introduce to Israel and to us, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

We are to come into Ordinary Time bearing this understanding upon our hearts.  That Jesus is the Sacrificial Lamb is what the Baptism of John reveals.  We declare each Lord's Day, 'For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.' And when Jesus came up out of the waters of the Jordan River, no one, not us, nor John or his followers need doubt who Jesus is.  

But doubt we will.  John will second-guess his understanding while lingering in prison.  Peter will doubt and deny Him.  Judas will betray him.  The scribes and Pharisees and Saducees will revile him.  And finally some will wag their heads at him and say,"He saved others, can he not save himself?"

This is why we must early in this new liturgical year hear again John's words, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'  We can become wayward and lukewarm.  And we do.  Living within the warmth of divine love is the fruit of renewing grace received through ongoing conversion to the heart of Jesus.  Real spiritual growth means going beyond the rote and routine notions we believe make us Christian or good Catholics. It means meeting Jesus personally, devotionally, spiritually, and sacrificially.  If the magnitude of what is meant by Jesus Lamb of God is to impact the world it first must impact us. 

Anything less is a weak and tepid Christianity that does not weep for itself and cannot weep for the world. 

As followers of Christ, we have for our example John's vibrant understanding of who Jesus is.  We have for our spiritual growth the means of grace which flow from Jesus.  We know grace issues from the sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist.  From the Catechism we learn that these lay the foundations of every Christian life.  The Catechism continues, "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life.  The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life.  By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity." (CCC 1212) 

We must have the increasing measure of the treasures of the divine life to grow in grace.  Ongoing conversion to the teachings of Jesus means our salvation is a work in progress.  It becomes delayed and stagnant and fruitless if the gift within is not stirred up.  The gift within is our interior life, where the life of Jesus is revealed and received. It is Jesus who said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (Rev. 3:20) 

Oh, what a Savior! Oh, Hallelujah! 

His heart was broken on Calvary.

His hands were nailed scarred. His side was riven. He gave His life's blood for even me.

(Words & Music Marvin P. Dalton)

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, come into my heart.  It is my heart you are seeking, may I seek your heart more fully.  It is your voice I need to hear, may I not be deaf.   You are the bread come down from heaven, may you be the food I desire.  Amen 



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