Message: Today we get a hint, a glimpse about how the story ends - the wedding banquet of the Lamb.
In these past weeks we have been hearing about our story - how our lives fit with the Big Story. As we learned last Sunday, the Big Story is complex because it is about the universe and all humanity. But it is also simple: everything comes down to one event - the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. By knowing the Big Story we can begin to make sense of our lives and our world.
Now, in any good story the author gives a hint at the beginning - a clue about how the story will resolve itself. For example, at the beginning of The Hobbit, we meet Bilbo Baggins. He desires on thing: to lead a quiet life, that is, tend his garden and eat eleven or twelve meals a day. The last thing Bilbo wants is an adventure. We see hints, however, that he has surprising skills and courage. In the end he will use those gifts to accomplish great things. So in The Hobbit we have hints at the beginning about how the story will end.
We see something similar in our Gospel. When John the Baptist spies Jesus, he gives a provocative hint about who Jesus is and what he will accomplish. He says, "Behold, the Lamb of God."
I wouldn't be flattered if someone called me a lamb - a timid animal that others use for food and Pendleton shirts. In Jesus' time, however, the lamb evokes much more than wool and a meal. For Jewish people the lamb has a vicarious role - a one-year-old male takes the place of the people. They put all their sins on that small animal's back, lead him to table or altar and open the main artery of his neck. His blood flows over the table washing away misdeeds.
It may seem strange to us to use an animal in this way, but it was not strange to the people of that time. All through the world (including here in America) people used animals, like lambs, to for rites of atonement. In fact, the reason those sacrifices stopped is because of the man we hear about today - the Lamb of God He offers the perfect sacrifice once and for all. With Jesus the need for animal sacrifice ends.
In the final book of the Bible, John has a vision of heaven. There he sees a Lamb. It's a jarring vision: the Lamb is about to take a bride. John views eternity as a wedding banquet with Jesus, the Lamb, and his bride, the Church - as we saw last week, those united with Jesus by baptism.
So today we get a hint, a glimpse about how the story ends - the wedding banquet of the Lamb. Amazingly we have an experience of that banquet even now. In a few minutes I will make an invitation like we heard in the Gospel: "Behold the Lamb. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world." And I add, "Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb."
Next Sunday we will hear how Jesus calls us. Like John we will have a role in inviting others to take part in the Big Story. As Isaiah say, "I will make you a light to the nations." Yes, you and I a light. And why? "that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." Amen.
From Archives (Second Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
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Podcasts of homilies (website of my niece, Sara)
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Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
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