- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 19, 2020

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 49:3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1: 29-34

Even though through sin, the people had given up on God, God had not given up on them. Announcing the mystery of God’s mercy, the Baptist cried out: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Behold the Lamb of God who humbly endured oppression and suffered affliction without uttering a complaint. Behold the Lamb of God who opened not his mouth as he was lead out to be slaughtered. Behold the Lamb of God who when confronted by His tormentors remained silent like a sheep before its shearers (Cf. Is. 53:7). Behold the Lamb of God who clothed himself in our humanity so that he could clothe us in his divinity. Behold the Lamb of God who in his self-sacrificing love became the Light to the Nations so that he could reveal his salvation to the ends of the earth.

Even though the people had proven unworthy, God still reached out to them. Behold the Lamb that was slain but now lives forever. Behold the Lamb of God who by his death conquered death and by His resurrection brought mortal human beings to newness of life. The Only-begotten Son embraced our human weakness to seek out and find the weakest. The Beloved Son chose to be rejected to seek out the lost and marginalized. He chose to become one of us so that we might be brought nearer the heart of the Father. He was despised and rejected so that we might be loved and reconciled to the community of the Trinity. The Lamb of God wandered in the valley of darkness and death so that we might find the Way to the Kingdom of Light and Life. How great it is to find ourselves in the hands of God.

God joins us in the exiles of our own making, all the while renewing his promise of fidelity. The Lamb of God came up from the washing so that we might radiate the wonders of God’s grace. The Son of God washes our sins away so that we may come before the Throne of Grace with confidence and hope. He who did not know sin took our sinful nature to himself so that he might make us as perfect as He is. The great author of redemption showed the authority for his work by becoming the servant of us all. He entered into the deepest depths of our being so that he might raise us up to the heights. He entered into our darkness in order to enlighten us and give peace to our troubled consciences so that we may be joyful with him for all eternity. Our sweetest comfort is in him. The psalmist was right when he wrote: “Only in God does my soul find its rest; from him comes my deliverance” (Ps. 62:1). Past experiences encourage faith and hope so that we might trust in God for time to come. And it is our duty, not only to help one another with prayer but also to make suitable returns for all the benefits we have received from God’s abundant mercy and loving-kindness.

We have been called to be servants of God’s compassion for all people who live in darkness. John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus because the world that He came to save did not recognize Him. The people who have dwelt in darkness had lost the ability to recognize the Light. Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men’s minds, than that when the Light had appeared people did not receive him. Christ was the true Light who came into the world to save sinners. By his Spirit and grace, he enlightens all who are willing to accept him. So that we might know His love, the Father overshadowed his son as he came up out of the Jordan: “You are my dearly beloved Son; in you, I take great delight” (Mk. 1:11). In the Son, the Father takes delight in us. Gazing on the Son, God looked at everything He had remade, and saw that it was very good (Cf. Gen. 1:31).

Through Baptism, we are called to be a light to the nations so that God’s saving grace might reach the ends of the earth. As the Baptist recounts what he saw at the Jordan, we get the image of creation at its very beginning. The author of Genesis wrote: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good” (Gen.1:1-4). The Spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters of the Jordan to reveal the coming of the Light. In that light, we see light and find the fullness of life. Our faith life is a journey, illuminated by the light that brightens our way. It is important that we be attentive to the Word the Father speaks to us. Listening to His Word, pondering it in our hearts and making it our spiritual nourishment allows us to encounter the living Jesus, and experience His loving embrace.

Each of us has heard a call to serve. Responding to the exhortation of the Baptist, let us fix our gaze on the Lamb of God who first sought us. Let us be attracted by the Way, the Truth and the Life that is God’s presence in our midst. In the face of confusion, doubt and scandal, let us hold fast to our faith in Christ. With the Apostle Peter let us say: “Lord, there is no one else that we can go to. You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). Like sheep that have been freshly shorn, let us follow the Shepherd up from the washing, our flesh glistening in the light of divine glory. Having heard the voice of the Father, may a holy longing for God take hold of our hearts.  

This holy longing wells up in our hearts because the Gospel message is ever ancient and ever new. This holy longing helps us keep alert in the face of every attempt to reduce and impoverish our life. This holy longing guides us as we journey towards our heavenly homeland where we shall see God face to face and know the fullness of joy in his presence. 

Lord, help me accept Your grace today and every day of my life.  Help me love You with all my heart and will all my soul and with all my strength. Open my eyes that I might recognize Your presence at all times.  I know that it is in You that I live and move and have my being. Help me to rejoice in how near You are.  Lord Jesus, I believe you to be the Lamb of God who has freed me from all my sin. I desire to offer you honor, glory, and praise all the days of life. When you return min glory, please bring us all together to eternal life. Amen.