One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

January 03, 2009

For January 3 before Epiphany

John 1:29-34
1 John 2:29-3:6

The seasons of Advent and Christmas focus heavily on St. John the Baptist in the Gospel readings at daily Mass.
St. John is the frame for celebrating the coming of Christ.
The Gospel today says St. John’s work made Jesus known to the people of God.
We cannot receive Christ unless we prepare as St. John teaches us.
We know St. John was a prophet.
However, we forget that he was also a priest according to the Old Testament.
The Gospel tells us his father was a priest, therefore a tribesman of Levi, and his mother was a tribeswoman of Levi, of the house of the High Priest Aaron.
As a child St. John grew up watching the Israelites make their sacrifices through the hands of his own father and fellow Levite tribesmen in the families of both his father and mother.
Twice in the Gospel— first today, and then on another day— St. John upholds that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Those are the words of an Israelite priest.
To this day in the Church, those are still the words of a priest, as he prepares himself and the people to receive the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus the Lord.
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
With those priestly words, St. John the PRIEST prepares the world to receive Christ Jesus the Lord.
That Christ is the Lamb of God means he is perfect and innocent, and so he is worthy, acceptable, and pleasing to God.
That Christ is the Lamb of God means he will be offered up in sacrifice.
The first purpose of a sacrificial lamb is to worship God.
The second is to obtain mercy from God.
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
If we would be ready to receive Christ, then we must acknowledge we have sinned, we must turn away from sin, and we must acknowledge we need Christ to carry off our sins.
Otherwise we remain turned away and removed from God.
The Word of the Lord in the first reading today put the raw and final truth before us: no one who sins has seen God or known him.
Yet there is hope for those who turn away from sin and hold to God in Christ, for the same Word of the Lord also told us, “You know that he was revealed to take away sins.”
He takes away sins, as St. John told us, by plunging and washing us in the Holy Spirit of God.
The Lamb of God is scapegoated in our name, and dies bearing the guilt of our sins.
He paid the debt of mankind, but that was not all.
In Christ, mankind rose triumphant over sin and death.
In Christ, mankind ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God.
In Christ, mankind’s whole being— body and soul— breathes the Spirit of God.
So— in Christ the Son of God— we receive the invitation and power to be the children of God.
The Word of the Lord today told us, “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”
The power to strive for purity is the Holy Spirit of God.
The Word of the Lord upholds that Baptism has already given us the power.
So, what we hear in the Word of the Lord is a vocation whose power we already have, but a vocation that we must continue to obey and fulfill.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Christ has done it for us.
We have only to be faithful in turning from sin and faithful in following Christ.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
If you consider that God is righteous,
you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness
is begotten by him.
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.

That God Be Glorified in All