January 14, 2018 — Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
“Behold the Lamb of God.” It is with these words that St. John the Baptist introduces Jesus to two of his followers, who then in turn do indeed follow Jesus to learn more about Him. One of those followers is identified as Andrew, brother to St. Peter, and the other is presumed by historians to be St. John. Throughout his Gospel St. John, although he appears often, is never specifically named.
But why did John the Baptist use that name in particular, “Lamb of God?” Lambs were sacrificed regularly and it was believed that their blood in sacrifice was given for the sins of that day. Of course, the blood of Jesus was given for our sins, not just for a particular day but for all time.
It is as if each Gospel presents a view of who Jesus is. You might say Matthew shows Him as the King of Kings. Mark presents Him as a Servant of God. Luke views Him as the Son of Man. And John illustrates Jesus as the Son of God. All together the Gospel writers give us a glimpse of the greatest Man who ever lived. This Man/God healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and most importantly loved unconditionally. Jesus has cared for us like no other. No one has ever loved us like Jesus has.
In our First Reading from the Book of Samuel we hear of how Samuel answered the call of God. His response has become the subject of numerous hymns and other writings. Twice Samuel says “Here I am,” and then declares (once he is aware that it is God Who is speaking to him), “Speak, for your servant is listening.” One of the more popular hymns has as its refrain, “Here I am Lord; is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.”
Just as the reading from 1 Samuel captures the essence of what our response to God’s call should be, this hymn does as well. Do we respond as definitely as Samuel does? That is what we are called to do.
In the Second Reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul confirms that we (as Samuel realized) are completely God’s. Paul indicates that just as the Church as a whole is a temple of the Holy Spirit, that is also true, especially in a spiritual sense, of each of us as Christians. We belong to God; our bodies belong to God, and not to ourselves. We are not our own for Christ has purchased us with the price of His sacrifice. It is human nature perhaps to take better care of something that does not belong to us.
Although Paul is making reference to sexual conduct, he is making a more important point. If our bodies belong to Jesus, we should not be idle with or wasteful with what belongs to Him. Our purpose is to respond to the Lord (as Samuel did) and to glorify God (“Therefore, glorify God in your body.”).
Our Gospel Reading comes to us from the Gospel of St. John. You may recall that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are considered the synoptic Gospels — that is, “synoptic” is a Greek word that means “to see together.” The synoptic Gospels present the life, Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus in a similar way.
The Gospel according to John is quite different. It is (at least according to scholars) more literary and more symbolic. It does not follow the same order as the synoptic Gospels, nor does it include the same stories. It was quite likely the last of the Gospels written. Today’s Gospel Reading affirms and confirms what we have heard in the first two readings.
Jesus asks these first two disciples an important and a logical question: “What are you looking for?” It is the same question He asks of all of us. For the answer the Lord directed them, as He does us as well, to Himself – to live with Him, to “Come and…see.” Those disciples followed Him. They do this at the urging of John the Baptist. Their willingness to follow Jesus fulfills John the Baptist’s ministry.
From our First Reading to our Second Reading to this Gospel we are all called to do the same. We are called to be Christ’s disciples. People come to faith in the Lord through invitation. Andrew invites and introduces his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. If we truly believe in the Lord, and wish to share that belief, we do invite others to join with us. That is part of our calling.