Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on January 12, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

Jesus took away the garbage of sin not by the violent destruction of evil, but by voluntarily laying down his life on the Cross; although the Biblical picture is that to “take away” is parallel to “destroy.” In fact, in both Jewish apocalyptic judgment, and in the Book of Revelation, it is a conquering lamb who destroys evil in the world (The Testament of Joseph 19:8; Enoch 90:38, Rev. 14:1).

The prepositional phrase “of God” shows that humanity is reconciled by God, who is Jesus, who takes away the sin of the world. For example, in the Holy Mass, the Lamb of God prayer or Agnus Dei refers to Christ present in the Eucharist as a sacrificial offering to take away sin.

[Source: The Lamb of God as Sacrifice, Covenant, and Ecclesiology by Brendan Gormley, The Dunwoodie Review, January 1, 2011.]

1. The Lamb of God will take away resentments.

Since Jesus died for the sins of the world, no other human act of individual retribution is necessary, and resentments are therefore not justified. As the saying goes “Resentments are like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.”

2. In John 1:29, John the Baptist said: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Ecce agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi).

The adjectival participle, “who takes away,” sin expresses the idea of the pardoning or forgiveness of sin, and the removal of guilt because Jesus was destined to be sacrificed like a spotless lamb as a sin offering to God. It shows the ugliness of our sins that drove Jesus to the Cross, and it also shows the infinite depths of Divine Mercy that is always available to us.

E.g. G. K. Chesterton was once asked the question, “Why did you join the church so late in life?” He answered, “To get rid of my sins.”

[source: George Thompson, “Kissing The Joy,” Pulpit Digest, Harper, San Francisco, May-June, 1992, p. 22]

The idea of removing or taking away sin, as expressed literally in both the Hebrew and Greek constructions, figuratively expresses the pardoning or forgiveness of sin. [Source: Another look at ‘the Lamb of God’ by Christopher W. Skinner, Bibliotheca sacra, 161 no 641 Jan – Mar 2004, p 103].

The most effective way this is done is through self-disclosure, which is a very important part of mental and spiritual healing since we allow God to see and “behold us,” in our sin and neediness. For Catholics, it’s done directly to God in the Penitential Rite at Mass, but most importantly also in sacramental confession.

Jesus taking away sin begins with the grace of God which touches a sinner’s heart, and calls one to repentance. This grace cannot be merited; it proceeds solely from the love and mercy of God. We may receive or reject this inspiration of God, he may turn to God or remain in sin.

In conclusion, something happened on Calvary that bridged the gap between a holy God and unholy humanity. We see Christ in his majesty but also in his mercy. God is victorious in the spilt blood of Jesus. His body, broken in death, lives forever. In Revelation 5:6, in heaven we will see Jesus as the lamb who was slain for us who bears the marks of his death as emblems of his love.