The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is really greater than me because he existed before me.’ Even I didn’t recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified, “I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove, and it rested on him. Even I didn’t recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that this one is God’s Son.”
As we begin this part of our Daily Gospel Reflections, our attention turns toward Lent - the forty day period leading up to Easter. It’s a time when a lot of us who follow The Way of Jesus, pause and reflect on the falseness within ourselves. It’s a time of deep searching. We understand that, because of our addictions to the falseness within ourselves and to the other falseness in the world around us, Jesus was executed. Those in power could not - would not - allow him to take that power away from them. So, they did the one thing that all desperate powerful, greedy, leaders do - they kill those who oppose them.
But there was another side to the story. John tells us plainly in the passage before us. He sees in Jesus the image of G_d’s Lamb. The purpose of the lamb in Jewish culture was very profound. It had many uses. But the one John lists here is dotted throughout their history. Some lambs were used as a sin offering to G_d. It is that picture that John paints here.
Jesus was not just here to do good works or to show us a way of living. He came to rescue creation. But John hints through poetic image that that would be a dangerous undertaking. So much so that Jesus would have to sacrifice himself to bring about that rescue.
But as John states, this death would have a purpose. Somehow, mystically, it would remove the “sin from the world.” It is to that mystery that we pause. It is to that dreaded future that we reflect on our own lives and how we have been a part of the falseness that leads to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice - the laying down of his life.
As we begin this journey to the cross, we must never forget that we are the reason for Jesus’ death. Even though he gave up his life, no one took it from him, he did it for creation. For our enemies. For our neighbors. For us.
On this Valentine’s day, let’s remember the words of Christ, “There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends.” It is to that Love that we have been called, released, freed. Because of the death of Christ, we now have the responsibility to live like him; love like him. During this time of reflection, let’s examine our lives in the shadow of the cross, of Love.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC