After all our Christmas Festivities and with the last three feasts of the season reflecting on the ways God is revealed to us, (Epiphany: the revealing light to the Gentiles, the wedding at Cana: the revelation through the first miracle, and the Baptism of the Lord: the revelation of Jesus as God’s favored Son) we are now presented with a title for Jesus that gives his whole public ministry a Eucharistic tone; “Behold the Lamb of God”. John points out to those who were following him that Jesus is the one.
The title “Lamb of God” we use three times before receiving Communion and is also used in the priest’s invitation to again, “Behold the Lamb of God”…the very same words of John the Baptist. This title evokes in us the covenant relationship we have with Jesus by whose blood our sins are forgiven from the cross. This is the once and for all sacrifice, there can be no other, no greater than God’s sacrifice of himself for us in his own Son. So from the beginning of what we call the Ordinary Time of the liturgical year we are presented with who Jesus is and what his end game is all about; our savior and our salvation. The Eucharist (Thanksgiving) we offer is for the ultimate sacrifice of God the creator out of His love for His creation.
I remember visiting a wonderful exhibition at the British National Gallery in London about 12 years ago on Images of Christ. Amongst some of the most famous images of Jesus in art was a beautiful small painting by Zubarán entitled Agnus Dei [Lamb of God]. It depicts a lamb trussed up on a butcher’s block ready for the slaughter. It is a most realistic painting except for one fact, the fleece of the lamb was clean pure white with soft curls. This emphasized the innocence of the lamb. This whole point was taken up by the repentant thief on the cross with Christ, “This man has done nothing wrong”. So we are saved from our sins by the innocence of the Lamb of God. Hmmmm, that must give us pause for thought. The focus of that thought should end with a question, “What can I offer back in thanksgiving for such a perfect act towards me who is on one level undeserving of such a great sacrificial gift?” In other words, “What can I give back to the life of the Catholic Church to show my deep appreciation for God’s love for me?” To paraphrase the great saying, “Ask not what your Church can do for you but rather what can you do for your Church?”
God bless you and your families and the week ahead,
Fr Aidan Peter CJ