Friday, January 14, 2011

Behold the Lamb of God

Reflections on the Readings
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - January 16, 2011 - Year A 
By Dennis S. Hankins

Behold the Lamb of God

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

In the Christian gospel, we find the answer to our deepest longing.  

Just a few days ago, January 8, 2011, tragedy struck in Tucson, Arizona.  The actions born from a violent man's mind left six dead and 13 injured, including nine year old Christina Green, born September 11, 2001.  This little girl entered the world on the day our nation was attacked by several men whose minds were violently dark; her life ended in senseless violence.  

We feel ourselves at one with those who died and those who suffer their painful passing. President Obama reflected on this tragedy with these timely and powerful words:  

"For those who were harmed, those who were killed – they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong. We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them... And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic."

In a few days, we will mark the anniversary of a Supreme Court decision. For 38 years it has permitted a daily and devastating tragedy.  It is my prayer that our President and all of us will one day soon, come to embrace the hope and promise of all of our children - born and unborn.  Our American family is minus 50 million and counting since 1973 - the year I graduated from High School.  We mourn the loss of so many in whom the magic never blossomed; so many curious and trusting eyes forever closed by a violent, legal procedure.  

You may be asking, "What does all of this have to do with our deepest longing and today's gospel?"   

Not very long after the dawn of creation, God created our first parents, Adam and Eve.  The virginal rays of the sunshine warmed them and all of creation by day; by night, all of God's creation, creatures great and small, fell asleep under the comforting light of the moon and all the host of heaven.  Eden was our first home, and daily visits with the Thrice Holy God was our daily bread.  

Then something awful and violent fractured the pristine place we called home.  Alienation strained the once familiar embrace of each other; we hid from God.  His voice frightened us; yesterday we welcomed Him.  Sin invaded and infected our hearts that once knew only the joy of perfect love; fear found a home.  

We long to be hugged unconditionally.  We long deeply for a love that will not let us go; our hearts are disturbed by the sin that so easily finds expression in us, among us.  Then John standing on the banks of the Jordan River sees him; he who is the desire of every nation; of every sin stained heart - the Lamb of God.  

In the covenantal history of salvation's story, an innocent lamb was slain for the sins of the people, helping the people to love God and each other better.  At the passover, the blood of the lamb, applied to the door posts and lintel, protected the people of Israel as they prepared to make their exodus to a land flowing with milk and honey.

This sacrificial worship in the Old Testament found its completion and perfection in Jesus, the Lamb of God.  In himself he took the sin of the world.  All of the world's pain, alienation, and violence; its wars, selfishness, greed, and envy - all of it - Jesus bore on the Cross in his suffering and separation from the Father.  And just before he died, Jesus prayed for you and me and the whole world saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  

We need a Savior; we can't save ourselves.  We fail too often to rejoice in the gift of love that is from above; we don't love each other as we should.  Oh, how all of us need Jesus.  As we come to this Table,  let us pray for each other and for the world:

Agnus Dei - Lamb of God - You take away the sins of the world,   have mercy on us. 

Agnus Die - Lamb of God -  You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Agnus Dei - Lamb of God - You take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.  Amen.

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN.  Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at 

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