In the first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, we have the promise of God’s servant who will liberate his people. And this promise is fulfilled in the Gospel where Jesus is that servant, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Bible readings Isaiah 49: 3, 5–6 Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7–10 1 Corinthians 1: 1–3 John 1: 29–34
Israel at rock bottom
What’s happening in the first reading? Israel has reached the point where things cannot get worse. She has been defeated in war and able persons have been driven into exile where, away from homeland, the people can’t continue with their religious cult. At this time the people of Israel suffer the identity crisis as they wonder: if we are really his people, how can God abandon us into the hands of enemies? If God was on our side, and if really, we were his people nothing of the kind would happen to us.
It’s amid such discouragement that Isaiah comes with God’s promise that gives comfort and hope to the people. Not only does God want to liberate his people but he also will turn their presence in the foreign land to good use; it will serve to make known the God of Israel to pagan nations. It means that even those experiences that may appear as mere suffering and empty can turn out to be a means of salvation for us and for others. God works like that. Indeed, we can see that in our daily life.
There are people after the death of their dear one, in a certain circumstance, or after suffering from a certain illness; they later become committed to a cause in order to help others. Indeed, doesn’t St Paul tell us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rm 8:28).
There’s the Lamb of God
In the Gospel, in a way, we have the promise of God fulfilled. John introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God. What’s the Lamb? It may not mean much to us today as it meant to the people of Israel. The people of Israel were protected by the sign of the Lamb’s blood on their door posts. And before leaving Egypt they ate the lamb, meaning source of nourishment as they prepared themselves for the journey. Later, the people will continue using the lamb for expiating their sins. In the new covenant it’s different.
It’s no longer through an animal, the lamb, that we are forgiven and nourished, but by Jesus himself, the son of God. That’s why John introduces him: here’s the lamb of God; it’s as if to say: do you want to be purified, it’s through him. Do you want to be strengthened, in him you will find true nourishment? And Peter affirms: “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12). It means, any search for life and happiness outside this Lamb of God, it’s like searching for water in a cracked cistern -it’s an idol.
The lamb of God of my life
And so, it’s challenge to us to be able to introspect ourselves: in what ways am seeking to be justified before God? Whom am I turning to for new strength in my Christian life? There’s no other but Jesus, the Lamb of God, through whom we have life and our sins forgiven.
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