Theme: Are you Ready to be Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
In the first reading (Is. 49:3, 5-6), the Prophet Isaiah through the prophecy of the “Suffering Servant” gives to the Israelite captives in Babylon a message of hope. This prophecy was meant to encourage them to remain steadfast in faith until the arrival of the One who will raise the tribes of Jacob and restore the survivors of Israel. This servant would be a light to the nations that the salvation of God might reach the ends of the earth. To achieve this, the suffering servant has to suffer and crush himself for those he has been sent to redeem. In Christ Jesus, we see the perfect fulfillment of this suffering servant. Sent by God to redeem mankind through the great sacrifice of the Cross, Jesus allowed himself to be dragged like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter (cf. Is. 53:7), where he was slaughtered for our redemption. That was why in the gospel reading (John 1:29-34) when John saw Christ coming, he exclaimed “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
By pointing out to Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, John the Baptist reveals the identity and mission of Christ. Before Christ, lambs were special animals usually slaughtered in the temple for the remission of sins. Christ appeared not as a lamb or one of those lambs but as “THE LAMB” indicating a definite identity and as “the Lamb of God…”, indicating a divine mission. Thus, the identity of Christ becomes that of an innocent victim and his mission is to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins. As an innocent victim, Christ was prefigured in the Abrahamic sacrifice at Mount Moriah (cf. Gen. 22:1-19). In him, we find the true son of Abraham who is going to be sacrificed as an innocent victim with the wood he himself has carried and his blood would seal the covenant between God and man.
In the Old Testament we can find other places where Christ was prefigured in a lamb. We may recall the use of the paschal Lamb in Exodus chapter 12 whose blood was smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites to mark them as the chosen people of God and prevent the death of their firstborn sons. John therefore presented Christ as the real Paschal Lamb who will be slaughtered and have his blood smeared on our souls to identify us as the chosen people of God and prevent us from spiritual death. We also recall that in the Jewish liturgy, every morning and evening a lamb was sacrificed in the temple for the sins of the people (cf. Ex. 29-38-42). These lambs provided by men were incapable of obtaining complete pardon for the people. By identifying Christ as the Lamb of God, John presents Christ as the Lamb provided by God Himself, who would be sacrificed once and for all for the sins of all mankind and his sacrifice would be sufficient and final.
As Christians, our baptism incorporates us into the family of God marked by the blood of the Lamb. This blood smeared on our souls identifies us as the New Israel called to love and serve God in others. It is for this reason that we have been called to become apostles of Christ as St. Paul tells us in the second reading (1 Cor. 1:1-3). For our sake, this Lamb continues to sacrifice himself daily on our altars bringing us divine forgiveness, renewal, reconciliation, healing, favours and protection. On our altars, this Lamb is sacrificed in an unbloody manner unlike the sacrifice of the cross. How well and how often do we participate in this great sacrifice?
Beloved friend, today, having known how powerful the blood of Jesus is, you can take advantage of it to ask God for mercy for the many horrible things you may have done. The blood is capable of cleansing the dirtiest part of your soul irrespective of the nature and number of sins you have committed. He shed this blood for your sake just to redeem you. Are you guilty of serial abortion or murder, have you spent your years in prostitution or armed robbery, have you done what you consider unforgiveable? Do not forget that no sin is beyond the mercy of God once you have a contrite heart. If Jesus can shed his blood for your sake, then he can forgive you. What you need to do is to approach him with a contrite heart. His blood which pleads more insistently than that of Abel is ready to wash you clean and reinstate you into a life of holiness and peace. As you invoke this blood in prayer today, may the blood of this Lamb continue to wash you clean and grant you protection in the coming week and always. Amen. Happy Sunday. God loves you.