My sister tells me that when her grandchildren ask for a story, she sometimes recites for them the poem, “Mary had a little lamb.” The part that delights them is when the lamb follows her to school...
Someone has claimed that the poem is a reference to Jesus. He of course is called the lamb and the white fleece would signify his sinless state. Whatever the case, it does tie in with today’s Gospel. When John sees Jesus from afar, he say, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
The lamb was a special animal in the Bible. In the Old Testament they selected a one-year-old lamb for the annual sacrifice. It had to be a male, without any defect or blemish. The people put their sins on the animal and took it to the altar where they opened an artery in its throat with a knife. Sometimes the blood was sprinkled on the people.
This is the image John had in mind when he identified Jesus as the Lamb. He would shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins. However, there is a big difference between Jesus and the Old Testament sacrifice. First of all, the lamb was an involuntary victim while Jesus made a free offering of himself. And Jesus’ offering was complete, perfect. It happened once and for all. It does not need to be repeated.
You have all heard about Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, one scene got cut. As you know, it was very controversial. One scene did get cut, the one in which the people cry out, “May his blood be upon us…” I understand why, but still it was a shame. I don’t know about you, but I want Jesus’ Blood to fall upon me. It is the only thing which brings complete forgiveness. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
This week I want to mention a very brave group of people who publicly acknowledged their own sin. They are a group called Silent No More. Last year in the March for Life they carried signs which said, “I Regret my Abortion.” That group includes Jennifer O’Neil, the famous model and actress. (She starred, for instance, Summer of ’42.) She is the chief representative of the group, but the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is also a member. This week Dr. Alveda King will speak out on the steps of the Supreme Court.
I know from my ministry as a priest that many women – and men – suffer because of abortion or other bad decisions they have made. They might go to a counselor or to a psychologist. That is very good. But, you know, ultimately healing and peace will only come through Christ.
At Holy Family Parish when we celebrate Mass, the priest holds up the host and says, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” That is our mission: to seek the healing of Christ for own selves – and for a world which so desperately needs that healing. May his Blood be upon us.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Archbishop's Visit, Campaign Progress, Martin Luther King's Niece)
Simple Catholicism receives citation in Daily Kos! (Caution: contains reference to a private body part)