“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Such simple and yet powerful words. We hear them at every mass as we prepare to receive the Eucharist – our Lord Jesus Christ, body and blood; soul and divinity! Do we take the time to truly appreciate the meaning behind the words? We typically think of a lamb as a meek and innocent animal. It is the animal that throughout history has been the most popular ‘sacrifice.’ This lamb though, is anything but weak. It is God Himself – in Jesus the Son “who emptied himself taking on flesh; obediently accepting even death – death on a cross!” Isaiah tells us about this “Lamb of God” just after our reading today in Isaiah 53. “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.”
“Behold the Lamb of God!!” We call out to him, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us!” And his mercy rains down upon us every time we receive his grace, his compassion, his agape love in the Eucharist. He is our lamb; come to save us and lead us home! John’s clarion call in this gospel of the true nature of Jesus for us –as our servant and the sacrifice of God for our sinfulness: a sacrifice made that we might benefit – is a stark reminder to each of us about how we should approach others as well.
Jesus did not come from a place of power or judgement – although he clearly could have. Rather he comes from a place of humility, a place of mercy and compassion, a place of forgiveness and acceptance and a place of encouragement and hope. In this gospel, Jesus has just finished his forty days in the desert, tempted by Satan. He overcomes Satan through humility, prayer and sacrifice. He conveys his strength through patience, kindness, love and truth. Jesus is the Lamb! We hear that twenty nine times in the Book of Revelations alone. It is intertwined within the liturgy of our Mass – the great sacrifice of the Lamb at the altar! His sole motivation was complete agape love! Through His sacrifice, he draws each of us in, refreshing our souls and renewing our hope simply with the power of truth presented through humility, service and sacrifice! Love – unabated and unblemished! Jesus came to live as the Father wants us all to live. His mission is the mission of every Christian. We are to point out the Lamb of God to the world. In our Psalm we proclaim, “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will” There is nothing greater that any of us can do in our lives than to reveal Christ to others. To live as he lived! Are we truly ready when we come forward; ready to be the face of Christ to others? Are we ready to sacrifice for others as he sacrificed for us?
As Vincentians, when we minister in service to others in need, do we come as a lamb? Is there an innocence to what we are about or do we have our own agenda? Do we stand ready to sacrifice and suffer for others that they might benefit? Do we serve without judgement or high expectation? Do we offer ourselves fully and completely without condition or restraint? ‘Behold the Lamb!! Come follow me!’
Lord Jesus, I thank you for your sacrifice for me! I humble myself before you, asking that you help me embrace sacrifice for others, that through my suffering I may become ever more connected to your cross and they may come to see your presence. Help me to overcome my judgements and expectations. Instill in me a spirit of charity and mercy. Give me the grace to act with kindness and gentleness. We pray all of this in your name. Amen.