Joseph A. Murray, O.S.A.
Is 49: 3. 5-6
Ps 40: 2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Cor 1: 1-3
Jn 1: 29-34
One of our teachers at St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey recently posted on Facebook: “Today I was asked why I bother teaching Theology. I responded that I am a beggar who teaches other beggars where the bread is. That’s why!” Our theology teacher, like many of us, understands his part in pointing others to Christ. He knows who the real leader is …. The leader is the bread of life, the Lamb of God.
When playing games as children many of us learned to “follow the leader,” mimicking the actions of another for fun; sometimes learning how to do new things. As we become adults we often get to choose our leaders and to learn how to live in an orderly society. As citizens and as religious people we take leadership very seriously, as we should. We spend a lot of time hearing what our leaders have to tell us, and discerning right from wrong / good from bad. As mature Christians we also take part in leadership. But we remember full well the one to whom we are being led - Jesus, as our one true leader.
In today’s readings Jesus is described / perceived in many different ways. Isaiah speaks of the “servant of the Lord,” which early Christians attributed to Jesus. Paul refers to Him as “Christ” and “Lord.” John the Baptist calls Him the “Lamb of God” and the “Son of God.” These images capture our imagination and point us to follow Jesus and to know Him more intimately.
In Isaiah we find prophecy of Jesus as a servant of God, and He models a life of perfect service for us. He is servant to all - “A light to all nations” so that “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” St. Paul makes it clear that Jesus is Christ and Lord. He is the Messiah and He is God, and through Him we are “called to be holy.”
When we consider the Lamb of God we’re reminded of the animal sacrifices of the people of Israel. Such sacrifices would be made as a form of penance; to make things right with God. Jesus is our lamb. Jesus is our sacrifice. “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Our relationship with our God is made right through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son and we are adopted as children of God through Jesus.
As Christians we have signed on to proclaim to our fellow beggars “WHERE THE BREAD IS.” Our job is to point others toward Jesus who reconciles us to God. We cannot limit our proclamation to people like ourselves or to people we happen to like or deem worthy. We’re called to seek out those who hunger for justice and salvation “to the ends of the earth.” Our job is to minister to those who suffer, those who live on the margins, and through our very lives offer them a living witness to suffering, sacrifice, death and resurrection.