Monday, January 10, 2011

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A Reflections

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time A Homily By Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Readings: Isa 49:3, 5-5; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Cor 1:1-3 and John 1:29-34

Christ, the Lamb of God, the Light to the Nations

Many of us may have already read the (recent Book) on the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, Light of the World, the Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, a conversation with Peter Seewald, a renowned Journalist who had some interviews with the Holy Father on a variety of issues that affects the Church, Faith and the Society. The English edition about 217 pages is published by the Ignatius Press, 2010.  I will suggest that for those of you, who read a lot, you may want to add that to your reading list.  About Eighteen issues addressed in the three sections of this Book reflect in Bible readings today. They are modern issues bearing the signs of the times in mind (Gs).
 In a world of today, characterized with abuse of media, secularism, materialism, clergy abuse scandal, violent, war, terrorism and challenge to long standing known family values, how do we maintain our Christian identity, keep the Faith, practice the Truth spoken in the Gospel, and be the Light of the World and perhaps the Salt of the earth and follow the path of – Jesus the Lamb of God. This is also a world that politicians canvassed for more votes than more truth. A world “that does not recognized anything so definitive and whose ultimate standard consists solely of one’s own ego and desires” (pp.50-66). The Holy Father calls this “Dictatorship of Relativism,” and continuously in response to that interview, draws inspiration from John’s Gospel,a highly spiritual Gospel, which teaches faith in Christ,  part of which we have read today, that we may believe (Jn 20:31-32).
In this highly spiritual Gospel, Jesus in the trial before Pilate is the Truth and speaks the Truth ( Jn 18:28-40). He does not defend this Truth with legions of army but by his passion and humility, ready to walk the path of suffering and the cross for us (p.51). This is the Truth, this is the Christ, the living presence of God, the Lamb of God (o, a.mno,j tou/ qeou/) who takes away the sins of the world (Jn 1:29-34).  This is what we repeat at every Eucharistic Celebration we have the privilege to participate in. Christ, the Lamb of God who does the will of the Father as in today’s Psalm, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” (Ps 40:2-10). He is the Christ, not just the talker of God’s will, but the doer of God’s will, the revelation of God’s forgiveness and healing mercies. He is the Lamb of God who loves and heals our faithlessness  through his sufferings.
This Suffering –Love- God is Love (1 Jn 4:7-10), the Holy Father stressed this Truth in his earliest encyclical, Deus Caritas est,. Quoting St. Augustine during Seewald’s interview with him says, “It is not the Love for self to the extent of destroying the world, but the love of others to the point of renouncing oneself (pp 59). And no greater love than the love of Christ through which he laid down his life for us His friends (Jn 15:13). This is the Love of Pope Paul II who forgave his would be assassin. The Love of Mother Teresa of Calcutta who left the luxury of the world to work for the poor and empowerment of the homeless and the needy children. The love of St. Monica who prayed and worked tirelessly for the conversion  of the son, St. Augustine.
By calling Jesus the “Lamb of God,” John the Baptist the Last prophet of the OT recognizes the superiority of Jesus. He recognizes the forgiving power of Christ. He sees in Jesus the Paschal Lamb, the Suffering Servant of YHWH (God) foretold in Prophets Isaiah. Chapters 40-55.; that although our ancestors in faith, Israel would suffer persecution, hunger, thirstiness, homelessness and injustices in exile of foreign dominion (Babylonians)- a Suffering Servant, their Liberator was on the way, who would bear their burdens and pains and bringing them love and comfort as well as make them a light to the nations. “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isa 49:3-6). Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us and his resurrection gives meaning to Christianity. It is an ultimate sacrifice.  The image of this sacrificial lamb is beautifully captured in Isaiah 53:7 which says:

“Though he was harshly treated,

 He submitted, and opened not his mouth.

 Like a Lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers,

He was silent and opened not his mouth.”

Truly, this is the image, the symbolism of who Christ is. Throughout his ministry, Christ was humble and very submissive to the will of His Father. He acted like the lambs we see around, compared to other animals. He was not pompous. He does things free of charge to people. He changes water into wine without charge (Jn 2). He healed the lepers through prayers without advertisement (Lk 5:12-16), compassionate to sinners without anger. And endured those who opposed him and his ministry of love with patient and defended the truth with transparency and sacrifice of love.
Like St. Paul who in today’s Second Reading (1 Cor 1:1-3, 5) challenged the quarrelling and disillusioned Corinthian early Christian community to be holy, we are invited to imitate the virtues of Christ. To be humble, help one another in our neighborhood and in the church community here. Sometimes we all know this comes with some sacrifice. Since Christ our paschal Lamb has been sacrificed once and for all, we are encouraged to participate in the life style of the Christ- the Lamb of God, ready to do God’s will, bearing sufferings, the trials and persecutions of this world with patient and docility of a lamb.

Let us  as Paul would admonished in 1 Cor 5:8, celebrate this feast not with the old yeast of malice and unforgiving spirit, but with the newness of the Love of Christ and the Unleavened bread of Truth and Sincerity” (1 Cor 5: 8).

Peace be with you!