Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Sunday Word

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 49:3, 5-6
1 Cor 1:1-3
Jn 1:29-34

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."

With these words John the Baptist fulfills what God has called him to do. He bears witness to the Word made flesh.
How does he know Jesus is the one?  Well, God has told him. "On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit."

So, what's happening in today's Gospel? On the surface two very important things happen: First, John fulfills his mission to bear witness to Jesus and to reveal him to Israel. Second, Jesus calls his first disciples, who are men of Israel.

But there is much more. It is the question of identity. Its is not the identity of John. It's the identity of Jesus. He is the Lamb of God. He is the one who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God. He is God’s chosen. He is the Word that was with God in the beginning. He is the Word through whom all things have their being. He is God. He is the light that shines in the darkness.

So, yes. This Gospel has already identified Jesus.

The question to which the Gospel now turns is the identity of Jesus in relation to Israel’s messianic hope.

In part, that question is whether Jesus is the Messiah? His new disciples will quickly say, “Yes. We have found the Messiah.”

But there is more to the question. It is not enough to say that Jesus is the Messiah. Those who consider the identity of Jesus must also ask, “What does it mean to be the Messiah?”

Do they know what it means to be the Messiah? I doubt it.
Do they know what they are seeking? Do they know their heart’s desire? I doubt it.
What do they know? Not much, I suspect.
Their story is our story.

They, with us in the communion of the saints, are still learning what it means that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
They, with us, are still learning what they are seeking.
What they have realized by now is that they did not find the Messiah. He found them. They have realize too that what mattered was not what they were seeking but who was seeking them. “Come and see.”

"What are you looking for?" Jesus asked.
"Rabbi," they replied, "where are you staying?" "Teacher," they were saying, "let us join with you and be your students." When Jesus responds to this address and request, his answer is an invitation, "Come and see."