The wonderful feasts of Christmas and Epiphany are still in our hearts and thoughts; yesterday we began the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and today we pray for PEACE in our times.
Peace has many meanings: non-violence, forgiveness, dialogue, acceptance of others, trust. Jesus said, “My peace I give you, not as the world gives it”. His peace is truth, life, light and joy – figurative terms reflecting different facets of the great gift that Jesus brought from the Father to us.
In today´s Gospel, John the Baptist says, “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” This is followed by a description wherein the prophet reveals the mystery of the person´s mission. This formula has its roots in the Old Testament, for example in 1 Samuel 9:17, When Samuel saw Saul, The Lord said to him, “ Look ! Here is the man . . . who shall rule over my people”. John the Evangelist gives us three meanings of the symbol of Jesus as the Lamb of God:
Jesus as the Apocalyptic Lamb. Jesus as the lamb of Jewish expectation who was raised up by God to destroy evil (sin) in the world;
Jesus as the Suffering Servant – portrayed a as the suffering servant in Isaiah as the servant who, like a sheep led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearers, “opened not his mouth”;
Jesus as the Pascal Lamb – Jesus was the Passover lamb, a slain lamb in 1 Peter: 1: 17 -18 – “You know what was paid to set you free. It was not something that can be destroyed like silver or gold, it was the costly sacrifice of Christ, who was like a lamb without defect or flaw.”
At Mass, before receiving Holy Communion, we pray to the Lamb of God three times and we are reminded of the meanings of each one.
Here, John the Baptist declares that he saw the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus after His baptism and that Jesus is “the Chosen One of God”.
We have already seen in John´s gospel (ch. 1 ) where the evangelist speaks of the pre -existence of Jesus as the Word of God, that “[t[he Word was in God´s presence and the Word was God. He was present with God in the beginning.” In his book, Jesus in an Emerging Universe, Cletus Wessels O.P. gives a deeper insight into the mystery of Jesus. If it is crucial to believe that Jesus is the pre- existent Word of God who has come from God and is of God, then we believe that Jesus is infinite love and divine energy and power. And we know that God is a God of love who so loved the world that He was willing to give of Himself, in His Son (Jn. 3:16; 1 John 4:8-9).
We receive the invitation, summed up in a still more ancient idiom from the prophet Micah
This is what Yahweh asks of you only this
To act justly,
To love tenderly,
To walk humbly with your God
May Peace, Love and Light be with you throughout the year (Mic. 6:8).
Sr. Aedris Coates OP