Homily – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The selection of today’s Gospel is from the early part of John’s gospel, and it begins with two disciples who were walking with John the Baptist, and John the Baptist sees Jesus walking and he points to him and he says, Behold the LAMB of God.

Now, one might wonder, why would he use that phrase? Well, I think part of it is understanding the gospel of John. The Gospel of John is written probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 to 110 A.D. But John writes something before that, which is of critical importance in being able to understand John’s gospel, and that is the Book of Revelation, which is a vision that John has as he’s on one of the islands, the island of Patmos.

And in that particular vision, which John then unfolds, he has chapter five, which is perhaps one of the most significant chapters in all of Scripture. And in that particular chapter, the elders are gathered in the throne room of God and God is on the throne holding a book that is sealed. And they all know that that book that God is holding is the plan.

God’s plan for the human race. And they are sad because they say, who will be able to open the book? Nobody seems to have the power to be able to do that. And one of the elders then points into the circle and says, But look, there is the lamb who was slain. He has the power to open the book in a sense, to bring to fulfillment the plan of God, and then all the heavens rejoice.

John sees that as really the background for everything he is going to, in a sense, bring to being in the gospel. He’s not going to in a sense, tell us Jesus did this and Jesus did that. What He’s going to say is that Jesus, the one, the lamb who was slain Jesus is the one who has come in our midst to unfold for us the plan of our salvation, the plan of God.

And he does that in a very deliberate way. Matter of fact, if you were to take the gospel of John, you would find that the Gospel of John is broken into two parts. The first part we call the Book of Signs. The second part we call the Book of Glory. But the signs are really ways of showing how God’s kingdom is literally breaking us in our midst.

And that’s what John is really writing. He’s not writing in a sense. He’s not writing the details of Jesus’s life, but he’s writing how the Plan of God unfolds through the actions of Jesus. And so the very first piece that you see when you get into the Book of Signs is the Great Wedding Feast of Cana. And you see that Jesus again responding to the need of the community, is able to multiply the wine.

So we call the first miracle. But it’s more than that because it’s occurring at a marriage celebration. And John’s point is the new king, the new plan that’s unfolding in our midst is a plan that can be related to marriage, because in a sense, John is saying Jesus is bringing about God’s plan of being one with us and having us as one with God.

And that experience is a celebration. It’s a time of joy, an uplifting moment. And so you see how in a sense, John is saying each of these pieces, each of these pieces is bringing about for each of us, for all of us, an understanding of the plan of God, a plan that is brought to be through the action of the lamb.

That’s why the second part of John’s gospel is the Book of Glory. We see it as well. It’s the story of the crucifixion, but it’s the book of Glory, because our glory touched with God’s glory is realized in the actions of Jesus on the cross. Yeah, Jesus on the cross submits and He doesn’t submit to the powers that be that have crucified him.

He’s submitting to the Plan of God. And in submitting to the Plan of God, he’s reversing what occurred in the Garden of Eden When Adam and Eve chose not to trust God’s plan, they were going to put together their own plan, but their Jesus in submitting is trusting God’s plan, and in so doing is giving the perfect response of the human to God that they might not be distant and apart, but they might be whole incomplete.

How do we know that is God’s plan? If you go back to the Book of Genesis and in the Book of Genesis, I know we all talk about and focus on the fact that Adam and Eve ate the apple or the fruit or whatever it happened to be, you know, and sin. But what they did was they basically said, I’ll do it my way.

But there’s another more important scene there. And that more important scene is captured in some very beautiful words in the cool of the afternoon. God would come each day to walk with his creatures. God’s design from its inception was not that God should be here and we should be here. But God’s design was that we be one in harmony with God.

And what occurs then on the cross is that harmony which is built on trust a trust of God’s love manifested in God’s plan for us, is accomplished, but it’s accomplished through the lamb. And so you think, well, why use the image of the lamb? Well, think about it. What is the lamb? What’s the significance of the lamb in scripture?

The Passover, the people of Israel being brought out of slavery into freedom. But it was a physical freedom. Jesus, the lamb brings us out of the slavery of sin, out of the darkness, and brings us into the territory of God, territory of peace and joy. And so the image, the image is so rich because it’s capturing literally God’s plan for us.

It’s capturing what God is inviting us to. And you see how it, John, a very creative writer, brilliant individual, and how they come to Jesus after the John has identified him, John the Baptist has identified him as the LAMB of God, and they come and Jesus invites them. He says, Come and you will see. He invites them to come in to him, to come into his life.

And you say, Well, that’s wonderful. That was then. But think about what happens when you’re here at the celebration of the Eucharist after we consecrate the bread and the wine becoming for us the body and blood of Christ, the living presence of Christ in our midst, I we come just before you come forward for communion. I hold up the house and the chalice and I say, Behold the LAMB of God.

The same words that John uses the whole the LAMB of God. And in effect, what is happening is that Jesus is inviting you just as he invited those disciples, He’s inviting you to come forward and join with Him in the mystery of his life in order that in him you may find the strength and the courage to go forward as those who live in the Kingdom of God.

And you may give witness to that by your actions. And if you want to find out about those actions, then read John’s gospel. Read the other Gospels, read the Scripture, because there you will see how Jesus is laying out for us a way of life, a way of life that He is continually strengthening and nourishing us to have the ability to walk.

That is praise. And today, as we celebrate this, that our response will be like Samuel’s. When he finally realized that it was God who is calling him, the response simply being, I hear, I listen and I do your will.