The central theme of today’s readings is a challenge to live like the Lamb of God and to die like the Lamb of God. In both the first and second readings, God calls individuals to his service. The Gospel passage presents three themes: namely, the witness John the Baptist bears to Jesus, the revelation (epiphany) and identification of Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” and the call to discipleship. Those who are called gradually accept the identity of the One who calls them. Like John the Baptist, today we may wish to use today’s Gospel as a personal and corporate call to become a witness to the Lamb of God. Bible Scholars have called the first reading and three similar passages from this section of Isaiah (chapters 40-55) the “Songs of the Suffering Servant.” Today’s selection is from the second Servant Song. In the original author’s mind, the servant was probably a figure for the people of Israel or a faithful remnant within the people. The second reading is the beginning of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians with “heading,” “inside address,” and “salutation” all in sentence form. The letter was written to all the members of the Church at
Corinth. Corinth was a bawdy seaport in cosmopolitan Greece. The vices of every seaport, plus the philosophical ferment of ancient Greece, were part of these people’s lives and gave rise, in part, to the need for this letter. Paul reminds them that, like all who call on the name of Jesus, they are “Sanctified and called to be Holy.”
- Live and die like the Lamb of God. Live like a lamb first by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives obeying Christ’s commandment of love. Second, by appreciating the loving providence and protecting care of the Good Shepherd in his Church. And third, by eating the body, drinking the Good Shepherd’s blood, and deriving spiritual strength from his Holy Spirit through sacraments and prayers. Die like a sacrificial lamb first by sharing our blessings of health, wealth, and talents with others in the family, parish, and community. Second, by bearing witness to Christ in our illness, pain, and suffering. And third, by offering our suffering for the salvation of souls and as reparation for our sins and those of others.
- Rebuild broken lives. Like the missionary call of the servant in Isaiah (Isaiah 49:1-3) and “those called to be saints” in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:ff), we are informed that God’s call is trustworthy and true. Therefore, we can believe from the depth of our hearts that our God is faithful. Furthermore, our faithful response to God is to rebuild broken lives reconciling them to God’s love and justice through Christ Jesus our Lamb and Lord. Through baptism into the Body of Christ, we are empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to build up the oppressed. Through the love of the Lamb of God, we are called to better the lot, improving the broken spirit of all who have been exiled from the possibility of hope, exiled from God’s righteousness, or burdened by the yoke of spiritual, social, economic, and political dislocation. In other words, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the glorified Lamb, we are called to empower the human spirit with a sense of identity and purpose
- “Come and see.” The essence of our witness-bearing is to state what we have seen and believed and then to invite others to “come and see.” For John, faith began by responding to the invitation to “come and see.” Three times Andrew brought someone to Jesus – first, his brother, Simon (1:40); then, a boy with five barley loaves and two fish (6:8); and finally, “some Greeks” (12:20-22) which signaled the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified. We tell others about good restaurants, barbers, optometrists, etc. Why isn’t there the same fervor over inviting and encouraging people to come and participate in our church activities? Often, we hesitate to do so because of the false notion that talking about religion is taboo in our culture, that religion is a private matter and should not be shared with others, that we do not have much of a personal faith to share, or that our worship services would not be appealing to others. One of the differences that faith should make in our lives is the desire that others – especially those without a religious faith – might also share in and benefit from the relationship God offers through Christ. If we are not willing to invite others into this experience, what does that say about our experiences with Christ and with our church? Love and Peace, Fr. Karl