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The Lamb of God: Paschal Sacrifice and Paschal Meal.
January 23, 2011
The Lamb Of God.
Readings for Sunday, January 16, 2011;
What do John the Baptist and I have in common?
No, not the camel hair coat. Iíll never be that stylish. Not the locust and wild honey diet. I do like honey but I canít find a steady supply of locusts in these parts. And You know I donít give hell-fire sermons.
But John the Baptist and I do both call attention to the Lamb of God, and in the same words!
ďBehold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.ĒI say it because John said it. At the elevation of the consecrated bread and wine, which at Christís command and by His power have become Ö Himself, present, the priest repeats from Scripture those words of the Baptist. So those words are familiar to Mass-going Catholics. But what did the bystanders think of it when John first said it? Did it sound strange to call a man a lamb? And how does a gentle innocent lamb do something as mighty as take away the sins of the world?
The bystanders too would have been familiar with the symbol of the lamb, and its rule in taking away sin.
For instance, they all celebrated Passover, when they would sacrifice and eat a lamb in remembrance of that original Passover lamb whose blood on the door posts delivered their ancestors from the death of the first born in Egypt. At the Last Supper Jesus applied that symbol to Himself. As the perfect Passover lamb sacrificed for us He is the proof of Godís love, Godís good intention to save, if they will have it, the whole human race. In Christ humanity is redeemed. We need not fear God. After Christ, salvation is ours to lose.
Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world by canceling our debt and expiating our guilt.
Thereís another lamb mentioned in Scripture that takes away sin Ė the Suffering Servant spoken of by Isaiah.
ĒLike a lamb led to the slaughter he was silent and opened not his mouth. Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we are healed.Ē (Is. Ch. 53)Christians recognize in this a prophesy of the sufferings of Christ. On the cross he not only redeemed the human race in general but also forgave personal sins specifically. He asked the Father to forgive those executing Him because of their ignorance; He promised paradise to the repentant thief.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world by forgiving you, and me, our own personal sins.
And there is the Lamb who shows up in the Book of Revelation:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by finally separating the weeds from the wheat, purging creation of evil, vindicating the good.
Happy are those who are called to His supper, called to share in the Eucharist which proclaims the redemption of mankind, forgives us each our sins, and anticipates the heavenly banquet where all Godís saints will rejoice with Christ in the life that never ends.
Happy, blessed, grateful are we who are called to the supper of the lamb.
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